The Amateurs: Meet the Lebowski of Porn

  Welcome to Butterface Fields, a SoCal "small-town U.S.A" peopled by cheery barfly numbskulls with names like Mo & Ron, Some Idiot, and Moose. Their king is Andy (Jeff Bridges), a divorced and feckless sad sack who, faced with competition for his teen son's respect, decides the best way to make a mark and score some bank is to gather the townsfolk to shoot an amateur porno. As a first-time director, Michael Traeger's greatest, not inconsiderable talent is staying out of the way as his skilled and eminently likable cast (including a very good William Fichtner, Joe Pantoliano, Ted Danson and, making much out of almost nothing, Lauren Graham) generates a palpable camaraderie, while cinematographer Denis Maloney envelopes the film in a warm and homey amber glow, and editor Raúl Dávalos maintains a brisk narrative flow. The Amateurs is nothing if not easy to watch. Yet, as a writer, Traeger is adolescent and glib, imagining a world where synonyms like fruit cup, honey pot, and yodel are as funny as it gets; where cherub-faced innocents are discovered over and over to have insatiably kinky sex drives; where The Full Monty is still fresh enough to inspire cribbing; and where, if you've paid even slight attention, a surprise ending is no surprise at all.

 
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