A miscalculated mix of sleaze and schmaltz, The Moguls wastes a promising premise and a capable cast. The great Jeff Bridges has rarely been worse as Andy Sargentee, a deadbeat dad who randomly decides that the best way to prove himself is by producing a porno with his other small-town, no-mark mates. Before long, things are getting sticky - albeit not in a way that will do it for the dirty-mac brigade. In every sense, there's nothing to see here.
None of Andy's pals is backwards in coming forwards when he hatches his smutty scheme, whether it's best friend Barney (Tim Blake Nelson), the macho-acting, 'secretly' gay Moose (Ted Danson) or nerdy cameraman Emmett (Patrick Fugit). Then there's Joe Pantoliano as a wannabe auteur with the rib-shattering name Some Idiot. Which is as good as the gags yet. Amateurs to a man, they're a bunch of loveable losers. Only without the loveable part. Somehow, it's hard to warm to their efforts to exploit the local blacks and women - none of whom, with the exception of Glenne Headly's hapless Helen, registers as characters in their own right.
Other fouls committed by writer/director Michael Traeger (who scripted the decent Dead Man On Campus) include inordinate use of voiceover (lazily employed to plug the plot-gaps) and a twist that manages to be both insultingly obvious and impossible to swallow. But the worst thing about this bargain-bin Boogie Nights are the life lessons ladled on as Andy fumbles towards fatherly redemption. Frankly, we couldn't give a XXXX.
The Moguls is released in UK cinemas on Friday 28th April 2006.