A scene from "Sexy Baby." (Handout )
Raising vital questions about female sexuality in the cyber age, "Sexy Baby" studies a trio of subjects, sometimes in excruciating detail. The result is a kind of "Three Ages of Woman, With Plastic Surgery," that veers between insight and hand-wringing.
Directors Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus aim to foster discussion, and toward that end they've made interesting choices to illustrate the mainstreaming of porn and the effect of the Internet on attitudes toward sex.
They profile a 12-year-old Manhattanite, smart, privileged and virginal, as she spends endless hours shaping her racy Facebook image; a 22-year-old North Carolina schoolteacher who regards her upcoming labia reduction as a life-saving necessity; and a married 32-year-old former porn actress trying to start a family.
The reality-cable-style approach tends to overstay its welcome and lessen the impact of each portrait, especially when it comes to New Yorker Winnifred's teen dramatics. She and the down-to-earth Nichole (a.k.a. Nakita), who's building a successful business teaching stripper moves to housewives and is the most likable character in the film, grapple with issues from a healthy sense of who they are.
But kindergarten teacher Laura is another story. She's the sad face of a disturbing trend that views porn-friendly proportions as the female standard. Once judged on those terms by a boyfriend, she brings her savings and hope to a surgeon specializing in labiaplasty.
It's a tossup which is more horrifying: the graphic before-and-during footage of her procedure, or her wan rationalizations.
"Sexy Baby.' No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.