Review: King Cobra


Writer/director Justin Kelly’s (“I Am Michael”) film is based on the true story of a gay porn film star who switches his allegiance mid contract. The bloody violence that ensues is depicted as being caused by childhood pedophilic trauma, but there is so little back story it is hard to get behind the feeling. This shortcoming is endemic throughout the movie as the audience is pounced upon by a series of screaming psychotics with neither rhyme nor reason.

james-franco-king-cobraPurportedly based on a true story, 17-year-old Sean Lockhart lies about his age to gay businessman/porn producer Stephen (stage named King Cobra) and a star is born. The two make a bunch of successful films and have five more to go on the contract when Sean decides he can make more money elsewhere.

A kicking, screaming fight ensues because seemingly talented and mature beyond his years Sean cannot make the remaining five films, become the porn star of all time, and go on to bigger things. This may be true, but it takes more than plain stupidity to make a good story. From that point on, we are losing empathy with Sean. Stephen has fallen in love with him and falls to the fatal weakness of mixing business with pleasure. That is the end of the wisdom. The rest is rote.

Cut to porn producer Joe, the excitable former youth pastor you did not want in your church. Joe is without either the temperament, talent or smarts to succeed at anything, but he loves Maseratis. That is the total depth of the development devoted to his character. That and the fact that he is a half million dollars in debt. How such a person could ever convince any person or persons to lend him a half mill is hard to figure, and no explanation is offered. Maybe it was $50,000 and the film maker applied a little license. Joe and co-producer Harlow, who suffered rape at the hands of his stepfather, set out to free Sean from his contract.

James Franco is good enough as Joe and Christian Slater is very good as Stephen, but they bounce around like pinballs within the scattered stereotypes of the screenplay. Garrett Clayton and Keegan Allen barely get a chance to show if they can act or not. The foursome unites to exploit whatever sensationalism is left in the gay porn industry, and that is very little. Considering there is more outlandish subject matter available to any 10-year-old with a smart phone, it is hard to see how this yarn will make a splash. The same film could have been made about heterosexual porn and it would have conveyed the same messages and had the same emotional impact — little to none.

If you have seen comparisons to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-nominated “Boogie Nights,” forget about it. This film is “Boogie Nights” shredded by a shot gun blast and restored by the blind.


Rating: 5/10

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