by Steven Warner Film

The Last Porno Show | Kire Paputts

Photo: TIFF

The Last Porno Show opens with shots of both hardcore pornography and an aerial view of a man graphically masturbating in a movie theater. It is a bold move, one that promises the viewer a bit of raunchy nastiness. But writer-director Kire Paputts is not interested in any sort of titillation, a pervasive self-seriousness tipping his artistic hand. This is one of those films where filmmaking itself takes center stage and works as a therapeutic tool for our protagonist, Wayne (also Paputts), and as the film opens, he is participating in one of those ridiculous improv classes that only exists in movies, and blowing an audition. Fate intervenes when he inherits a run-down porno theater from his recently deceased father, and what looks like an unwanted burden soon becomes a blessing as Wayne channels his past for acting inspiration, resulting in a leading role in an independent film. It turns out that if your father was a sex addict/exhibitionist who literally raised you in a porn theater, your childhood is going to be pretty fucked up, a fact which Wayne seems unwilling to confront. Before long, he is going full-on Method in his acting, literally dressing in his father’s clothes and even sporting a fake moustache. That this is played for laughs is somewhat distressing. By the time the man is literally fucking a television set featuring a woman that also slept with this father, well, words aren’t sufficient.

The biggest problem with The Last Porno Show is that it is a tonal mess, although its doubtful that there is a filmmaker on the planet who could successfully execute what Paputts is attempting here. There is a little bit of A Man in Uniform, someTaxi Driver, a hint of Tropic Thunder. But the cocktail produced tastes of pure arsenic. Maybe child sexual abuse isn’t the first subject a filmmaker should mine for laughs. That all of this is supposed to result in a major breakthrough for our main character, signified by a scene near film’s end where Wayne decides not to engage in what basically amounts to sexual assault, and  this after a sequence where he is brutally beaten for attempting child abuse — it’s all far too much. This is a vile and reprehensible film, and it’s made all the more so by the fact that it has the gall to end on a note of bogus uplift. There aren’t enough Silkwood showers in the world to make one feel clean after watching this monstrosity.


Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2019 | Dispatch 4.

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