Published November 1, 1998
Orgazmo, written and directed by and starring Trey Parker, exploits the essential comedy in sex by bringing together the adult film industry and Mormonism — an unpromising combination, you might think, though the premiss is good for a few laughs before it sputters out about half way through. Parker plays Joe Young, a Mormon missionary in Los Angeles who, happening to call on a house where a pornographic movie is being shot by porno kingpin Maxxx Orbison (Michael Dean Jacobs), is set upon by security guards. Somehow, the gentle and innocent Mormon boy proves to be a master of the martial arts, and Orbison himself sees his potential as star of his new film, about a sort of sexual Batman called Orgazmo who wears a mask and a colorful leotard and wields a ray-gun called an orgasmorator that can give a bad guy an instant orgasm at 40 paces.
As we know that Joe’s fiancé, Lisa (Robyn Lynn Raab) has her heart set on a wedding in the Mormon temple at Salt Lake City and Joe hasn’t got the money to pay for it, he will be sore tempted when Orbison offers him $20,000 for two days’ work and a stuntman to do the actual sex scenes. Besides, as Orgazmo he will be wearing a mask, so no one will know who he is. He’s still not sure, however, and prays to a statue of Jesus with the characteristically Catholic exposed heart—something that a real Mormon would be most unlikely to do. “Give me a sign,” he asks in prayer, if it would be wrong to take the part of Orgazmo. Suddenly there is an earthquake and the statue topples over and breaks. “Any kind of a sign,” Joe adds. But later an apparition of Jesus himself appears and give him the thumbs up.
So he takes the job, telling Lisa that he is to make all that money by starring in Death of a Salesman. Later, when Orgazmo becomes a megahit and the sleazy Orbison offers him $40,000 to make a sequel, Lisa is surprised. How can they have a sequel to Death of a Salesman? Doesn’t Willy Loman die in the end? Doesn’t he kill himself? No, says Joe thinking fast, that’s what they want you to think. Actually, the CIA killed him—for selling smack. To Nazis.”
“And all this time I thought Death of a Salesman was boring!” says Lise.
It is one of the two best jokes in the movie. The other comes when Choda Boy urges Joe to put on the real orgasmorator he has invented and go to the rescue of a friend, a jive-talking sushi bar owner who has been beaten up by Orbison’s thugs and signed over his property. “I’m not a superhero,” says Joe to his new friend. “I’m a Latter Day Saint.”
But I’m afraid that’s about as good as it gets. Part of the problem is that superhero stuff is getting superboring anyway, and when it is presented—as it is here—without even any attempt to hide the fakery, it is even more boring. Ten years ago the idea of a sexual Batman called Orgazmo might have made for inspired comedy. Today it seems tired and predictable. And, funny as it is in places, it never sees anything more than a joke in Orbison’s direction to Joe, whom he renames “Joe Hung,” to “Use your tongue, for Christ’s sake!”
“How,” asks Joe in all innocent sincerity, “would Christ benefit from my putting my tongue in somebody’s mouth?”