"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" is not nearly as funny as it means to be, yet as a minor diversion it's breezy and fast-paced. In an encouraging feature debut, director Joel Hershman proves to be a good storyteller, capable of creating distinctive characters and catching them up in an ingenious plot. It's just that his dialogue and his jokes could be funnier.
After an amusingly zany opening, hunky but feckless hero Bud (Max Parrish) holes up in a seedy El Monte trailer park inhabited by a bunch of colorful characters. Bud, who's on the lam, has landed there after having been picked up by one of its residents, an aggressive, blunt-talking topless dancer (Andrea Naschak). However, it's not Naschak's statuesque Sabra who captivates Bud, but her demure teen-aged sister Dannie (Adrienne Shelly).
The film is at its best as a romance, as Bud and Dannie fall in love amid the screwball shenanigans. Both Parrish, in his film debut, and Shelly are highly appealing actors.
The real find of "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" (at the Sunset 5), however, is Naschak, a onetime child actress who moved on to Shakespeare festivals but spent 1990-92 as porn star April Rayne. Naschak's varied background has served her well: She's totally uninhibited--and satirical--when it comes to sex and exhibiting her spectacular body. But she also has a trained comedian's sharp timing and delivery. She understands well that what's so funny about Sabra is that this kinky sexpot has absolutely no sense of humor, especially about herself.
Among the other vivid trailer-park residents are Ania Suli and Bela Lehoczky, a real-life mother and son, who play an eccentric mother and son constantly bickering over the fact that the mother's last husband, an agent, has made off with $150,000. The elegant Suli, like her character in the movie, was a prewar star of films and opera in her native Hungary.
There's more than a bit of repetitiousness in the shrill carrying-on of these two. Hershman should have spent less time with them and more with Diane Ladd as a loveless middle-aged woman who wrangles with her mother (Mary Lanier, her real-life mother) and is stuck with a goofy son (John Auxier, an actual inhabitant of the trailer park where the film was shot). Ladd must have done the picture as a favor to Hershman, who in turn should have given her more to do. As it is, she does have one terrific scene with Parrish.
Appearing throughout "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" (Times-rated Mature for sex and language) as a running gag, Sean Young plays a crazed, dangerous heiress who sets the plot in motion. Timothy Leary also turns up as a decidedly shady type.
'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me'
Max Parrish: Bud
Adrienne Shelly: Dannie
Andrea Naschak: Sabra
Sean Young: Twinkle
Diane Ladd: Lucille
A Mad Dog Pictures release. Writer-Director Joel Hershman. Producer Travis Swords. Executive producer Martin Ira Rubin. Cinematographer Kent Wakeford. Editor Kathryn Imhoff. Costumes Cathy Cooper. Music Gerald Gouriet. Production design Dominic Wymark. Art director David Willis. Set decorator Terry Whitaker. Sound Robert Sheridan. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.
Times-rated Mature (for sex and language).