Film Review: Marriage 2.0

Wolf Hollander, Sadie Lune, Mickey Mod, and Juniper Gold in Marriage 2.0. Image courtesy Adam & Eve.
Wolf Hollander, Sadie Lune, Mickey Mod, and Juniper Gold in Marriage 2.0. Image courtesy Adam & Eve.

Marriage 2.0

Created by Magnus Sullivan and directed by Paul Deeb.

Featuring: India Summer, Dylan Ryan, Nina Hartley, Andre Shakti, Juniper Gold, Mickey Mod, Sadie Lune, Beretta James, Christian Wilde, Daisy Ducati, Jack Hammer, Wolf Hollander, Ryan Driller

Things are changing in the porn industry. I say this after much reflection: looking back on all I’ve seen and learned in the past seven and a half years as a porn critic; checking out the material I have lined up for review on this blog in coming months; taking in mountains of smutty movies of all possible denominations at Cinekink and the NYC Porn Film Festival last weekend; and, at Cinekink, watching Marriage 2.0.

I can’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve been asked why nobody makes movies that combine sex with narrative. Films that aren’t “just porn” or “just story,” but which combine the two. This idea comes up like clockwork in almost every conversation I have about pornography and film, and the answer is always elusive. There are filmmakers out there striving to marry sex and “mainstream” movie-making, but they’re usually in Europe, or deep underground in America, or really hard to find online. The obstacles are numerous and extreme: the impossibility of finding funding, nonexistent distribution options, finding actors who can act and who are willing to fuck on camera… the list continues. Really, the only people set up to make “movies with sex” are people who already make sexy movies–pornographers. But most pornographers, in my time in the industry, aren’t motivated to do so. They’ve got their niches and they’re sticking to them.

Enter Marriage 2.0, a totally legit film that combines a big budget, solid writing, outstanding acting, original score, and hardcore sex. For real. It stars India Summer and Ryan Driller, and it’s directed by Paul Deeb and funded and distributed by–are you ready for it?–Adam & Eve. One of the largest producers of pornography in the world. I swear. This actually happened. I saw it at Cinekink on February 28, and you can watch it online right now. It exists. And it’s… good.

India Summer and Ryan Driller in Marriage 2.0. Image courtesy Adam & Eve.
India Summer and Ryan Driller in Marriage 2.0. Image courtesy Adam & Eve.

That’s not an unqualified statement. Don’t go in there with Paul Thomas Anderson expectations or anything. Keep in mind that the budget was huge for porn industry standards, because Adam & Eve is in the porn industry, not the mainstream Hollywood industry Don’t forget that porn industry standards are still in place, too, for much of the sex and editing. But don’t forget, either, what mainstream porn industry standards often look like in practice: straight, white, hetero, vanilla and still somehow soulless. Terrible music. Lazy cinematics. Zero to very little plot. “Acting” that needs quotation marks.

My point is that trying to break the mold counts for a lot in the porn biz. Even trying too hard, which Marriage 2.0 sometimes–okay, often–does.

But, hey. The movie is about polyamory-slash-open-relationships–a non-vanilla topic that’s currently hip but also currently misunderstood. It treats this topic with a really astounding amount of respect by highlighting the potential pitfalls as well as the potential rewards of opening up one’s relationship to others. That’s ballsy. It stars a cast that’s diverse in race, orientation, and even body type. This cast is also full to the brim of real-life sex-positivity celebrities (Reid Mihalko, Nina Hartley, Mickey Mod, Dylan Ryan, Carol Queen…) who bring their real-world ideas about sex and relationships into the film. The writing is smart and also funny. There are references to the Odyssey. The acting is good. I mean solidly good. Safer sex is showcased. And, hell, there are hot people of multiple genders instead of your typical straight-girls-only showcase. This movie has a lot to offer. And one of those things is hardcore sex–in pairs, threesomes, and groups; vanilla and kinky and several shades in between.

Dylan Ryan and Christian Wilde in Marriage 2.0. Image courtesy Adam & Eve.
Dylan Ryan and Christian Wilde in Marriage 2.0. Image courtesy Adam & Eve.

Like I said, sometimes it tries a bit too hard: the soundtrack got a might corny from time to time, as did the editing; the settings and props were clearly aimed at a white yuppie audience with lots of money (which, I admit, is a very smart move, but still left me rolling my eyes); and the decisions made about what to show in some of the sex scenes was a little boring (pop shots and no squirting and so on). We’re not yet at a place where we can have it all in our big-time-porn-company-sponsored films about sex and relationships.

And that’s ok. Because honestly, it’s the trying that counts here. And it doesn’t hurt that the end product is actually something I’d recommend to friends who are thinking about opening up their relationships, whether to new people or to sexy movies.

So the moral of the story is this: please consider purchasing this movie. You can download the entire thing, or watch it in episode format online. And if you put some cash into it, the message to Adam & Even (and the rest of the industry) will be clear: people want solid entertainment that is also sexy. We want to see more change like this in the adult entertainment industry. And if we pay for it, more of it will get made. So check out the trailer, shell out some cash, and give Marriage 2.0 a try.

(PS: This movie taught me, definitively, that Mickey Mod fixes everything. He’s sort of the deus ex machina in Marriage 2.0, and he can be the god in my machine anytime he wants. Just saying.)

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