“Meet Monica Velour” has all the makings of a '80s teen-sex romp -- a crazy car, some wacky characters, a road trip and a geeky virgin tracking down the porn star of his fantasies. Throw in some Wayfarers, a Simple Minds soundtrack and it’s ready for heavy rotation on Cinemax, circa 1984. But what director Keith Bearden has delivered with his first feature is sure to be a favorite at Tribeca.
Unbearably introverted and dorky, 17-year-old Tobe (Dustin Ingram) is a young man born in the wrong time. He’s a fan of '30s music, '70s movies and '80s soft-core porn – specifically the films of that era’s greatest star, Monica Velour (Kim Cattrall). When Tobe learns she is appearing at a strip club in Indiana he seizes the opportunity to meet the deity of his desires.
Driving the weinermobile (think ice-cream truck with a giant hot-dog on top) his grandfather (Brian Dennehy) bequeathed to him as a graduation present, Tobe sets out on an journey that leads him into Monica’s life, but he quickly discovers it’s far from the apex of success she once had.
The plot sounds eye-rollingly cheesy, however, beneath this exterior lies a wonderfully inventive, touching and very hilarious film that no doubt will find a loyal audience. The cast is stellar from top to bottom. Ingram skillfully pulls off the naïve, mouth-breathing, nerd extraordinaire Tobe, resisting the easy over-the-top route.
The supporting characters, from Dennehy as the cantankerous grandfather to the pop art-collecting mentor Claude (Keith David), solidify an already smart and original script.
But it is Cattrall who is the heart of this film, delivering a performance that registers a sincerity and depth we have not seen from her up to this point. All the notes Cattrall hits as this weary and worn woman ring true.
With plenty of laughs, quite a bit of brains and a strong cast, “Meet Monica Velour” will not have difficulty finding an appreciative audience.