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Stealing Candy

cast: Daniel Baldwin, Coolio, Alex McArthur, and Jenya Lano

director: Mark L. Lester

84 minutes (15) 2003 Mosaic VHS rental
Also available to rent on DVD

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by John Percival
SPOILER ALERT!
Candy (Jenya Lano) is a famous but shy sex symbol, somewhat on her uppers and being hounded by the Inland Revenue Service. However three ex-cons have plans to make some money out of her. They plot to kidnap her and coerce her into having sex live on the Internet via a pay-per-view pornographic website. I wonder if I am the only person who had a real problem with the premise of this film. The whole idea is based upon violence against the female character and prostituting the act of violence for money. No matter how they tried to sugarcoat it with the honourable intention of one gang member and the inevitable twist, it still left a bad taste in my mouth.
   How the whole plan will work is glossed over by meaningless computer code flowing up a screen and some of the most unconvincing techno-babble ever uttered on celluloid. It has very little basis in reality and is insulting to the viewer's intelligence. Essentially it appears to be along the lines of porn action is filmed by camera, camera links to laptop, laptop links to Internet where a fairy waves a wand and then 1.3 million voyeurs pay $10 for a look. I think it is less of a comment about society that 1.3 million people log on and more about how popular the filmmakers think that this 'would' be. This film is very shallow and requires little of the viewer.
   An obvious ploy to sell this film is the presence of a Baldwin in the cast and for this outing in the role of Walt we have Daniel 'The Budget' Baldwin. He has the blue eyes, the gravely voice but is also twice the size of any other Baldwin. Despite his being the 'technical' brains behind the plan we are to feel sympathy for him as his share of the immoral earnings are to go to his family and more importantly an operation for his son. It is a textbook plot device.
   Fred (Alex McArthur) and his ex-cell mate Brad (Coolio) recruit Walt, and they kidnap Candy to broadcast a taster on the Internet, and then forward subscribers' payments for the full show to their offshore bank account. Fred is the man who provides the male half of the online sex display. All the time Candy is threatened with violence and blackmailed into performing the sex act. Or is she?
   And here is the twist with all the subtlety of a truck of sledgehammers. Candy and Fred are lovers and masterminded the whole plan. Now this I guess legitimises the whole issue of forcing Candy to do the sex act as she consented ahead of time, but it is still a very serious subject to be toying with so lightly. It is an extremely obvious twist, as although Candy protests in all the right places, she does appear to be giving the performance of her life during the broadcast and not at all shy.
   'Once upon a time rapper' Coolio provides proof undeniable that his talents lie elsewhere. His over the top performance as Brad is completely unbelievable. He is a violent killer whose blood lust does not match the robber background given to us. He seems more pantomime baddie/serial killer than thief. Of course, as a man driven by base desires he is strongly attracted to what Candy will be displaying and here is the friction within the group, that and killing some poor guy who was fishing and minding his own business.
   The script is awful and I mean really painfully awful. The whole affair stinks of some school movie project and the 'wet dream' subject matter seems adolescent enough to back this up. But then again I feel that this film is aimed at that demographic, people who will quite happily disregard the flaws for the flesh and the soft porn action in the middle. And for that I am sure they will not be disappointed.
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