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NY Times Looks at Finding Bliss – Neither Funny Nor Sexy

from – Julie Davis’s trifling romantic comedy, “Finding Bliss,” is a goofy ode to the liberating benefits of pornography.

Its heroine, the strait-laced Jody Balaban (Leelee Sobieski), is an aspiring director with a degree from New York University’s film school who goes to Hollywood to break into the movie business. When the only job to be found is editing pornographic films for Grind Productions, she grits her teeth, averts her eyes and settles down to work, determined to bring a softer feminine perspective to the company’s hard-core products.

Like Jody, Grind’s in-house director, Jeff Drake (Matthew Davis), fancies himself an artiste who is in it only for the money. Early in his career Jeff made an art film that Jody reveres as a masterpiece. For the movie’s clichéd purposes, he is also conveniently hunky and not as depraved as Grind’s products might suggest.

In its portrayal of Jeff’s repertory company as a cozy family of grunting and gasping airheads with hearts of gold, “Finding Bliss” suggests a chick-flick “Boogie Nights,” minus the drugs and freakouts. The more Jody finds herself turned on by the action on the set, the more her rigid good-girl/bad-girl ethic crumbles.

At night, she uses the same set to shoot her own “serious” film, whose antediluvian plot suggests a Doris Day-Rock Hudson vehicle about a girl like Jody righteously defending her virginity. The cast includes members of that repertory company, who all imagine themselves to be serious actors and are pathetically grateful for the opportunity.

Except for the usual double entendres in which titles of mainstream Hollywood hits are twisted into salacious puns, “Finding Bliss” (Bliss is the name of the company’s resident star) isn’t especially funny. Nor is it sexy, despite flashes of nudity and fleeting glimpses of Grind’s works in progress.

“Finding Bliss” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has nudity (including a glimpse of male frontal) and explicit sex that stops just short of pornography.


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