The nauseatingly titled “Cougars, Inc.” comes across like an unfinished movie, with viewers often dropped into scenes already in progress. It’s a mess of characterizations and romantic connections that also wants to register as a raunchy sex comedy, spinning itself dizzy for 79 minutes. I’m not exactly sure what type of film writer/director K. Asher Levin was looking to make, but he’s made all of them, uncomfortably stuffed into a doomed comedy where every character is either suffering from an undiagnosed mental impairment or registers as flat-out repulsive.The troublemaking son of a playmate, Sam (horror stalwart Kyle Gallner) has been dumped into the care of Dan (James Belushi), a boarding school dean. Developing an easy rapport with Dan and his classmates (including Ryan Pinkston, as unpleasant as ever), Sam is making progress in life, cleaning up his act. When tuition troubles come into view, the boy is devastated, taking solace in a one-night-stand with Alison (Kathryn Morris), a dreary fortysomething woman who delights in the younger man’s attention, giving him a little money as a parting gift. Inspired, Sam collects his buddies and opens a male prostitution business for older women, using Alison’s friends (including Denise Richards) as their first customers. Finding business booming, Sam is soon challenged by Courtney (Sarah Hyland), his new girlfriend and youthful distraction from the demanding cougars.
"Old ladies and new problems"
“Cougars, Inc.” (shot under the title “Mother’s Little Helpers”) aims to be a “Risky Business” for a new generation, where sexual dominance roles have shifted to favor ladies of a certain age, with teen boys shedding their slack-jawed virginal appeal to become expert cocksmen, merely due to their youthful impulsiveness and alleged stamina. Levin establishes a fantasy situation, but makes the rookie mistake of taking the plot too seriously, scripting up a wild series of chaotic events, only to panic in the end by introducing sincerity. It’s an incompetent brew of laughs, love, and lascivious behavior (along with a flat-out commercial for a cougar dating site mid-way through the movie), with a brief running time set aside to tinker with a crummy narrative puzzle few will actually care to see solved.
It’s honestly startling to witness how badly “Cougars, Inc.” bungles fundamental storytelling requirements. Characters aren’t introduced, they’re shoved into the picture, with Courtney an acid-tongue question mark who Sam, for some reason, falls instantly in love with. Their relationship is never defined or developed, only employed to create a sense of redemption for apple-cheeked man-whore that’s never earned. Alison is also a vague figure, with Levin pushing Sam and his blonde john into a semi-relationship that makes no sense in the long run, with the entire prostitution scheme barely debated between two people Asher wants his audience to value as intelligent. Romance is nowhere to be found, though the script certainly believes what’s happening here is worth some tears and remorse, with a grim third-act that halts the fun to play the premise seriously, paying off characters we barely understand. If Levin is honestly searching for an emotional reaction to any of this nonsense, a major rewrite was in order before cameras rolled.With an abrasive soundtrack of runny hip-hop selections and a script that contains zero laughs, “Cougars, Inc.” is an easy film to ignore. Asher just doesn’t have the training to pull off such a tricky tone, often mistaking noise for charm.
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originally posted: 05/13/11 23:22:15