Art of Revenge (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

There are only two things that kept this film from being a good erotic thriller:

1. It's not erotic

2. It's not thrilling

OK, I'll admit those are quite major factors in the scheme of things, but the film might have worked with only a few changes.

On the thriller side, it started with a pretty decent script, and a plot twist that fooled me. The basic premise is that a husband divorces his wife out of nowhere, for no very good reason, and the wife concocts a scheme of revenge, manipulating various elements of his life like an unseen puppeteer, all while pretending to stay friends with him.

I think this same script could be punched up a bit and made into a pretty solid, interesting movie if ... and this is a BIG "if" ... it were performed by real actors. It's basically a five character play with lots of twists in the alliances and plots between those characters. The female performers were kinda sorta competent, but the two males were not at all. One of them was a son of Dom DeLuise, the other one is a rock star turned actor named Stephen Jenkins, the lead singer of Third Eye Blind. This is the first time he's played anything other than "rock singer", and I'm guessing it will probably be the last. In real life, he must be quite the stud-boy, having dated some major babes like Charlize Theron. His on-screen persona, however, is  ... well, let's just say there's no way you'll believe he's heterosexual. His hysterical outbursts, stressing all the wrong words in a flamboyant way, coupled with his unfortunate lisp, make him the very caricature of a "you" (young outed urban). This guy makes Andy Dick seem as rugged and manly as Lee Marvin. If he were playing a gay guy, I would be complaining that his performance was too stereotyped, yet he is supposed to be a studly young man on the make.

It is about as bad a performance as you will ever see without Crow and Servo to guide you through it.

His wife was played by Joyce Hyser, who did a respectable job in her role, but seemed miscast. I say that because Hyser is hot on the trail to 50 (she'll be 47 this year), and looks it, while rock-boy is 39 and looks younger, so it seemed that she could easily have been playing his mom. You'll remember Hyser from "Just One of The Guys" about 20 years ago, as the girl who switched schools and pretended to be a boy to prove that she lost an essay contest because of her gender. She had a few other decent-sized movie roles in 1983-1985, then appeared on L.A. Law in the late 80s, then virtually disappeared. In her IMDb filmography, she only has one credit between 1991 and 2002. I don't think she should count on this film to launch a comeback.

On the erotic side ... well, it has sex scenes, but no T&A at all. The dazzling Nichole Hiltz, playing the husband's new love interest, would have been a good candidate for some nudity, but she never came close. I have seen beekeepers with less of their body covered. Hyser did one of those PG movie sex scenes where the lovers press their chests together so all possible nipples are hidden.

The modesty of this film doesn't make sense to me. It is a straight-to-vid erotic-themed thriller with an R rating. Scoop's First Unity of Time and Space and Movie Shit says - once you know you will be awarded an R rating for language, load up on the breast count, because the tits are free. The MPAA doesn't assign an NC-17 just for showing breasts, so the worst they will give is an R. If you already have an R ... well, to repeat my essential hypothesis, the tits are free.


None. See the main commentary.

DVD info from Amazon

  • no features, no widescreen

That's an important marketing point to remember with any film, but it's an absolutely critical issue with a straight-to-vid thriller. If this had some sexy nudity, ala Basic Instinct, I'd be telling you that you should rent it if you like a sexy thriller, because it has a decent plot and you can ignore some of the bad acting. Without the T&A, I just can't give you any reason to spend your time on this film.

And that's kind of a shame, because one could take this same script, add some erotic elements, hire some real actors, and make a very respectable STV movie.

The Critics Vote ...

There are two reviews online.

  • Reel Criticism wrote an incredibly long review, scoring it 2.5 out of 10.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.0/10. That's probably a touch high. I would have guessed "in the fours"
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is an E as a steamy thriller. It fails because poor performing and timing steps all over a decent script, and the film has no substitute pleasures - no T&A at all. It's about as erotic as Doug's First Movie. Really not worth your time.

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