PORN STAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY (R-RATED EDITION)
Reviewed April 28th, 2003 by Brian White
“This is the only porn documentary without a sad ending.” says director Scott J. Gill on the commentary track. That may be true, but this movie is much less fun than the viewer might expect. Why does Ron Jeremy come across like such a loser? There is a wealth of potential here for a really funny documentary, and this film misses the mark. One suspects that the filmmaker’s goal was to make a fun movie, but he doesn’t seem to know how to deal with the subject matter. Footage of a triumphant Jeremy in front of a waving flag is included, but this documentary doesn’t add up to that heroic image by any stretch of the imagination.
As for the assertion that this is the only porn documentary without a sad ending, that fact is true enough. Over the years there have been several sad stories about people who got involved in the seedy underbelly of the porn industry, and their lives were ruined. Certainly John Holmes is one example, as well as countless female porn stars that found themselves in the pit of addiction problems, or dead by their own hand.
Ron Jeremy is different. Despite all of the problems in the porn business, he has been able to survive. He has been at the center of the porn industry for more than 25 years, and is still going strong. Ron is attempting to make the leap into mainstream films, and has succeeded to a small degree. Certainly he wears the stigma of the most famous porn star around his neck, but he has managed to turn up in quite a few regular films.
Because he is a survivor, and because Jeremy is such an entertaining person and clearly aims to please, this documentary should be a blast to watch. If you are watching a flick about a porn star, you should be prepared for the subject matter and allow yourself to enjoy the ups and downs of Jeremy’s funny life story. Instead, we get a lot of talking heads telling us what is wrong with Ron Jeremy. A lot of his friends are clearly taking the piss out of the actor, but it comes across as a little weird. Jeremy straightens some of this out on the commentary track. Given the great story arc of Jeremy’s life, this documentary should play out in a more satisfying manner.
One example of missed potential in the documentary is the fact that Jeremy’s real legal problems are nearly ignored. Jeremy tells an audience at one point that he was in significant trouble in the late seventies because it was illegal to perform in a pornographic film. The actor tells the story of a porn director that went all the way to the Supreme Court to have the law overturned. Much could have been made of this fact, and it is barely touched upon. Also ignored is the fact that Jeremy plays a disciple in the filmed version of Godspell.
The Legend of Ron Jeremy is certainly interesting in places, as we learn some of Jeremy’s techniques for maintaining his composure in certain scenes, and we do get a peak into the real life of a porn star. The trip to the AIDS clinic is a great piece. Also, it is great hearing Jeremy’s father and sister describe him so affectionately. Unfortunately the film runs out of steam, and you might want to turn it off before it ends.
The video on the DVD is presented in 4:3, and non-anamorphic. The interview footage appears to be digital video, and clearly not the best image ever placed on DVD. However, the video is more than acceptable for a documentary of this sort. A separate, uncut version is available. The R-rated disc contains no footage of explicit sexuality, but there is nudity. Apparently an erection is not allowed in an R-rated film, because Jeremy’s equipment is blurred out when at attention.
The audio is presented in digital stereo. You can hear what people are saying throughout, which is good enough. No more is necessary for this type of film.
For extras, you get the screen-specific commentary from Jeremy and Gills. It is here where the viewer realizes the fun that was intended, and Jeremy is brimming with information about everything that is going on. Certainly the commentary track is more entertaining than the movie itself. A number of deleted scenes are also included. Given that the film drags, you won’t want any more, although the Lolita bit is somewhat amusing.
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