In "Meet Monica Velour" a young dork sets out to meet the '80s-era porn star he worships only to find the embittered middle-age woman she has become. The feature debut for writer-director Keith Bearden, the film, starring Dustin Ingram and Kim Cattrall, works hard to be both a quirky comedy and heartfelt, age-imbalanced romance of self-discovery.
Ingram, with his bony physique and shock of "Napoleon Dynamite" curls, looks funny in a comic-caricature kind of way but never quite nails the person underneath the nasally shtick. Cattrall, on the other hand, in her performance as a woman grappling with a lifetime of dubious decisions and looking down the barrel of not-much-else, seems intent on proving she is capable of more than just the saucy Samantha of "Sex and the City."
Coupled with the crisp officiousness of her recent role in "The Ghost Writer," this part might point the way to broader prospects for her as an actress.
In some ways this film's biggest failing is that it can't decide who's story it is telling, his or hers. In lots of ways the tale of a former porn star trying to hack it in the world is more compelling than that of a young romantic in search of himself and Bearden's inability to really balance between the pathos of one and the forced-quirk of the other leaves "Meet Monica Velour" feeling flat.
"Meet Monica Velour." MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use. Running time 1 hour, 38 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.