Adam "Batman" West is a record exec who creates evil robot popstars, in Sexina Popstar, P.I., a super-cheesy new comedy. The only one who can stop him is Sexina, a Britney Spears clone who fights crime by night. I saw Sexina at IndieFest here in San Francisco on Saturday night, and it struck me as a PG-rated live-action version of Stan Lee's Stripperella. Watch the trailer, and then learn the awful truth about Sexina.
Sexina aims to be a campy comedy about a world-famous singer who puts on a leather catsuit and kickboxes ninjas in her spare time. It's a cute concept, and there are lots of sweet moments in the movie. But Sexina never really kicks ass in the movie. I literally sat there waiting for her to do some martial arts or beat up a bad guy, and it never happens. She does hit a guy with a bottle at one point, and there's a sort of free-for-all at the end. But Sexina isn't nearly as tough as Davy Jones (yes, from the Monkees) informs us in the James Bond-esque theme tune. She mostly relies on other people to get her out of trouble.
Most of the movie consists of jokes that fall flat the first time, and then are repeated endlessly. (Like for example, a supporting character is a high school quarterback with a sensitive side, and at one point, his coach grabs his ass. Then his coach grabs his ass again. And again. And again. And again.) The movie is aiming for a sort of John Waters-lite campiness, but doesn't have the nerve to go all the way over the top. The result is a movie which isn't cartoony enough to get away with its nonsensical premise and one-note characters. The funniest part is a guy in a completely silly fake bear costume who mauls a random thug, and apparently that's because the filmmakers got the wrong bear costume by mistake.
West, as the main villain, goes all-the-way gay, which apparently emerged in rehearsals. The movie's baddie, who letches all his robotic boy-bands, wasn't supposed to be quite so gay. But West just got gayer and gayer with every run-through and take.
There was a brief Q&A with the movie's cast and crew after the screening. They mentioned they'd thought Sexina would have a lot of commercial value, but distributors haven't agreed because it doesn't fall into a neat genre and nobody knows how to market it. So now writer/director Eric Sharkey is hoping it'll become a cult movie. Another problem with the film: it aims lots of barbs at 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, which were very timely when Sharkey started working on it ten years ago.
I hate to be so mean about a plucky indy movie, but I feel like you should be warned. You may come across Sexina (probably on DVD) and think it'll be a cheesy, so-bad-it's-good late night movie. But it just doesn't commit enough to its premise to reach that territory, and the oceans of rum-and-cokes it would take to make the gay Adam West and his singing robots funny would probably make you pass out.