Film Review: Quickie Express

BOTTOM LINE: Gigolo-on-delivery makes for a gay romp with a funky '70s groove.

Udine Far East Film Festival

The salacious lives of gigolos get the ultra-camp treatment in "Quickie Express," a gender-bending comedy that takes the word "screwball" literally. Despite Indonesia's strict censorship standards, the film's creators pushed the envelope with their portrayal of a raunchy world where sex is always on demand and plenty in supply, plus an orgy of gay innuendoes.

It was Indonesia's number one local hit in 2007, achieving a festive quality like a Christmas pantomime for adults. An irresistible pick-up for gay festivals or those serving more light-hearted fare, overseas commercial prospects are hampered by off-beat theme and rapid colloquial dialog.

Director Dimas Djayaadiningrat benefited from Joko Anwar's ("Joni's Promise," "Kala") inventive script and production house Kalyana Shira's cosmopolitan, boutique approach to filmmaking. Relocating its sexploitation pastiche to modern uptown Jakarta, the package is technically polished and genre-savvy, invigorated by a heady mix of '70s jive and '80s disco fever music, and whirlwind shoots around bustling outdoor locations and sets of "Boogie Nights" splendor.

The film opens with hard-luck hero Jojo (Tora Sudiro) in a compromising position -- dangling from a Ferris wheel with a deranged thug yelling death threats. It then rewinds to explain how he got there. The hyperbolic plot transports characters from kinky exploits to castration by piranha -- making Jaws seem as harmless as Nemo. It takes a love pentangle, countless car-and-street chases before returning to the cliff-hanging first scene, where more reversals await.

This keeps most viewers busy enough to overlook the humiliation of older women, blatant phallic fixation and segments that play like lazy time-fillers. Acting is fine. More puerile than virile, the leads are anything but Richard Gere lookalikes in Armani suits, but they relish camping up their greasy hairdos and wimpy physiques as a style statement for the film's celebration of weird and unorthodox concepts of beauty and sexuality.

Kalyana Shira Films/EZY Productions

Cast: Tora Sudiro, Lukman Sardi, Amink, Sandra Dewi, Ira Maya Sophia.
Director: Dimas Djayaadiningrat.
Screenwriter: Joko Anwar.
Producer: Nia Dinata.
Director of photography: Roy Lolang.
Art Director: Dimas Djayaadiningrat.
Music: Aghi Narottama, Bemby Gusti, Ramondo Gascaro.
Editor: Wawan I. Wibowo.
Sales: Kalyana Shira Films.
No rating, 117 minutes.