out of Five
Running time: 98
Enjoyable coming-of-age comedy drama with an engagingly off-beat script, some appealing production design and two terrific central performances from Kim Cattrall and Dustin Ingram.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Keith Bearden, Meet Monica Velour stars Dustin Ingram as Tobe, a gawky, Napoleon Dynamite-like Washington State teenager who's obsessed with 1980s porn star Monica Velour (Jamie Tisdale). When his cantankerous grandfather (Brian Dennehy) gives him a hotdog van, he embarks on a road trip in order to sell it to an artist (Keith David) in Indiana and takes the opportunity to meet Monica (Kim Cattrall) when he discovers she's making an appearance in a local strip club.
However, things don't quite go as planned and Monica ends up taking care of Tobe back in her trailer-park home after he gets beaten up trying to defend her. Tobe, in turn, falls head over heels for Monica and determines to try and help her, particularly when he discovers that she's lost custody of her young daughter to her ex-husband.
Newcomer Dustin Ingram is likeable and engaging as Tobe, ensuring that we root for him to succeed even though we cringe at the way he continually misinterprets their relationship and realise that his quest is probably doomed to failure. Similarly, Tobe's resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite is so striking (both physically and in mannerisms and line delivery) that they might as well have called the film Napoleon Dynamite Meets Monica Velour.
Cattrall is terrific, delivering a compellingly complex, vanity-free performance that really gets under your skin; Monica has fallen on hard times and she's frequently angry or mean to Tobe but Cattrall lets us see glimpses of her vulnerable side too and the result is genuinely moving. The film also has some appealing production design details (Keith David's character's art, the hot dog van, Tobe's love of 1930s music) that add a layer of quirky texture to the film and are strongly reminiscent of Ghost World.
The appealingly offbeat script is frequently amusing and there are some great lines, though it's fair to say that the second half of the film doesn't quite live up to the witty and inventive first half – for example, there are lots of great gags involving Monica's porn career (notably a very funny Star Wars parody) and several promising characters (including Dennehy and Jee Young Han as a similarly porn-obsessed classmate with a crush on Tobe) who could have been put to better use.
Meet Monica Velour is an engagingly off-beat coming-of-age story with terrific performances from Cattrall and Ingram. Worth seeing.
Meet Monica Velour (15)