MOM THEATRE LOVER: The Money Shot: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

The Money Shot reunites MCC Theater’s Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute with director Terry Kinney (reasons to be pretty) and features Elizabeth Reaser (The Twilight Saga, “The Good Wife”); Gia Crovatin (reasons to be pretty, Reasons to be Happy at LA Theatreworks); Golden Globe-nominee Callie Thorne (“Necessary Roughness,” The Last Days of Judas Iscariot); and MCC Alum Fred Weller (Mothers and Sons).

Karen (Reaser) and Steve (Weller) are full of themselves movie stars who haven’t had a hit in years. Their latest film project, Jackhammer, they are hoping will put them back on the Hollywood map, with one caveat.  The director wants them to have sex onscreen.

So, on the night before the “deed is done,” they have all gathered at Karen’s swanky home in the California hills, that she shares with lesbian partner Bev  (Thorne), to share the news and come up with a list of what sex acts are acceptable and what is off limits to perform onscreen.  Contributing to the discussion is Steve’s blonde seemingly-bimbo, starving, aspiring actress bride Missy (Crovatin).

The stakes get higher once  Bev challenges Steve to a wrestling match, twisting the table on him when she wins, and the prize, at Bev’s suggestion, is that she and his wife have a rendez-vous on the spot in the bedroom she shares with Karen.  The point?  To ring home that there’s more to real life, sex and love than performing an act for the sake of fame and that we all hurt each other, as LaBute states.  Certainly true, but it takes LaBute’s characters over an hour of  conversation, though jarring and funny at times, til we get to the “climax”, so to speak, and until then, it’s a long, raunchy, tiresome ride.

That said, the cast delivers, and Crovatin as an acrobatic ingenue and Thorne, as the voice of reason, are particularly effective.

LaBute understands the underbelly of Hollywood, and we get a voyeuristic look at it, which has its laugh out loud moments, but even 100 minutes, no intermission, ultimately grows thin when it’s all said and done.