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Wet Dreams
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Wait, I just got the title!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: At virtually any film festival worth its salt, you will find at least one vanity project in which a celebrity gets to goof off in front of the cameras (and frequently behind them as well) in the serene belief that anything that is captured on film will be compelling to an audience simply because they are famous. Such films are usually quite frustrating because a.) they are usually painful to watch for all but the most devoted fans of the celebrity in question and b.) they take up a festival slot that could have otherwise gone to a more deserving unknown. On the surface, “Wet Dreams” appears to be just such a film–a famous person gets to go off and achieve one of their great ambitions while we get to watch–but it turns out to be better than most such efforts because the star in question, Rebecca Romijn, is such a friendly and genial presence and because her grand ambition is so odd and unlikely that it is actually somewhat interesting to watch.

That ambition, one that I am willing to bet that few of you have ever given a thought to in your life, is to stage a portion of the extravagant water fountain show–an enormous undertaking in which the movement of water shot out through thousands of nozzles and cannons is choreographed to music through elaborate computer programs--that appears outside of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. With friend (and director) Steve Willis, Romijn attempts to contact WET Design, the water performance company that stages the displays, and is quickly rebuffed, However, she persists and even takes her case to the “Tonight Show,” making her plea in front of those few people who still watch Jay Leno. This gambit succeeds and before long, Romijn and Willis show up at their offices, clad in lab coats, in order to put on a 3 ½-minute segment of the program.

The film charts the two over the next ten days as the select the perfect bit of music to fit with the kinetic motion of the waters (film geeks will be giddy with the final choice of Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstacy of Gold” from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”) to working out the initial plans with a heroically calm programmer (who keeps his cool even while being repeatedly prodded by Romijn’s pointer) to actually swimming out in the fountain while actually getting thing up. Along the way, we get a sense at the astonishing amount of time, effort and technology that goes into putting on such a thing–when we get a look at the underground control room that keeps everything humming along, it looks like it could be sitting next door to the War Room from “Dr. Strangelove.” If nothing else, “Wet Dreams” will force anyone who catches it during its CineVegas screening to make a beeline for the Bellagio (where her segment is still in the rotation), if only just to more fully appreciate all the work that they will now realize goes into such a thing.

Besides the technical details, the other thing that makes the film worth watching is the presence of Rebecca Romijn, and not just because I firmly believe “Femme Fatale” to be arguably the best American film of the decade to date. Of course she is beautiful but she also, unlike most models-turned-actresses, has the kind of personality that doesn’t shrivel up and disappear when the still cameras are replaced with movie cameras. While she treats the fountain project with the upmost seriousness, she is perfectly happy to be goofy and poke fun at herself at other times without it ever seeming particularly self-conscious. With Willis, she has an amusing on-screen rapport and when you see her delight as her unusual dream comes to life before her eyes, you can’t help but feel happy for her as well. (That said, it should be noted that when we finally see the show at the end, the film doesn’t quite capture the sheer impact of the spectacle–then again, how could it?)

Despite being almost willfully slight and inconsequential at times–in order to get to a barely-feature-length 69 minutes, the film includes both an extended story about trying to sneak a couple of pet dogs on an airplane and a debate about whether to include the story in the film–“Wet Dreams” is an amusing and occasionally interesting film that gives us a close-up look of something that most of us have never seen before. True, if it weren’t for the presence of Rebecca Romijn, this movie probably wouldn’t have been made and if it had, it would have probably been relegated to the Bellagio in-room cable channel instead of film festivals. That said, at least the film has the good taste to give us something to pay attention to other than her.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14556&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/09/06 15:10:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2006 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

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Directed by
  Steve Willis

Written by
  (documentary)

Cast
  Rebecca Romijn
  Steve Willis
  Jerry O'Connell
  David Spade



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