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“About Cherry”: James Franco in a Porno?

August 9, 2012

James Franco has proven he’ll do almost anything as an actor, from gigs on General Hospital and the Nick at Nite-time soap Hollywood Heights to performing a graphic fellatio scene in his NYU master’s-thesis film Broken Tower. His flirtation with porn continues with a cameo as Hugh Hefner in the upcoming biopic Lovelace and a supporting role as a cocaine-addicted lawyer who gets involved with a neophyte adult-film star in About Cherry, an indie drama now available on VOD in advance of its theatrical release next month.

About Cherry is not an actual porn film, though it does include explicit sex scenes with the lovely Ashley Hinshaw as the titular teenager, who leaves her Long Beach, Cal. home with her boyfriend (Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel, slumming) and gets mixed up in the X-rated entertainment industry in San Francisco. Hinshaw, a former Abercrombie and Fitch model who’s like Blake Lively’s less lively little sister, is a long way from her role as Miley Cyrus’ BFF with a high-schoolgirl crush on her math teacher in the recent flop LOL.

Still, it’d be understandable if you mistook Cherry for a porno, given the wooden dialogue and acting. Franco slurs his way through his part as a rich sleazebag art-world aficionado, and the ensemble also includes the eternally stiff Heather Graham—riffing on her Boogie Nights‘ Rollergirl role as a skin-flick director (she’s like a female Jack Horner)—Rescue Me‘s Diane Farr (as Graham’s jealous lesbian lover), Mystic Pizza‘s Lili Taylor (wasted, literally and figuratively, as Hinshaw’s alcoholic mom) and real-life pornography veterans like Sensi Pearl, Elana Krausz and Princess Donna.

About Cherry was cowritten (with first-time director Stephen Elliott, who displays an arty, airy visual style) by Lorelei Lee, an adult-film actress whose long list of credits includes Anal Nurse Whores, Strap It On 5 and Gang Bang My Face—and those are some of the more tasteful titles. You’d think she would bring an enlightening insider’s view, but the movie sheds precious little insight into the industry.

Still, this dramatically flaccid little flick won’t hurt Franco’s career, considering he’s already got no fewer than a dozen more films slated for release within the next year. Among them are Spring Breakers (Kids wunderkind Harmony Korine’s girls-gone-wild crime dramedy, with Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens), Sam Raimi’s prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful (with Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis) and Homefront (with The Expendables‘ Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham). But perhaps his most challenging acting job will come in next summer’s The End of the World, an apocalyptic party comedy that reunites him with Pineapple Express‘ Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Franco’s role? Himself. At this point, he’s shown so may different sides of his persona—from intense Oscar-nominated actor (127 Hours) to spaced-out Oscar emcee—that even he may not know what to do when faced with the question: Will the real James Franco please stand up?

What’s your favorite James Franco flick? Anybody care to extol the virtues of his work in Spider-Man 1-3, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Date Night or Milk?

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