Hi folks. It's been quite a while since I wrote anything substantial about a new movie, and to be honest when I heard that AMKingdom were making a feature with the goal of replicating the fully integrated adult films of the golden age, I was highly skeptical. Even when I read reviews that highlighted, "it's a real film!" I still braced myself for a feature that had good intentions but, alas, fell foul of the demands of the gonzo crowd and internet watch-by-scene. But what a treat this film is. I actually kept telling myself, “Don’t get your hopes up…” for a full hour before I felt I could sit back, relax, and accept that, yes, this really is what you think it is: a fully integrated x-rated feature.
Petites follows Skin (Skin Diamond) and Marie (Marie McCray) as they start college and attempt to join the Theta House, a sorority full of tall, hot young women who mock Skin and Marie's diminutive stature. In the world of Petites, being a petite is tantamount to being a nerd in Revenge of the Nerds (a central conceit that gets a lot of mileage in the laughs department), and the film chronicles Skin and Marie's efforts to fit in, before embracing who they are and taking revenge on the Thetas. A simple plot, but one that is tons of fun for film fans, as well as allowing for sex scenes that don't feel forced. The sex is already implicit in the source texts Petites is riffing on; ATK just had to flesh it out, so to speak. A wise move for a first feature, and one that attempts (and succeeds) in fully integrated sex and plot.
Petites does a few things that reminded me of what drew me to adult film originally, as a film fan and a feminist:
It shows women in protagonist roles – roles that are typically male roles in mainstream. If the Bechdel Test were applied to hardcore features and Hollywood, I wonder which would win out? In Petites there is nary a man to be seen. Meanwhile, there are tons of women and they all have, like, relationships of different kinds and stuff. Nothing groundbreaking, sure, but a breath of fresh air for someone who breaths a sigh of relief when a woman is not the male hero's trophy at the end of a Hollywood narrative. Some could legitimately point out that while women do get to play protagonist roles usually reserved for men, they also have to fuck in order to earn this privilege, but it is also important to note that the x-rated feature is one of the only spaces where women are not punished for actively pursuing sex. Indeed, it is encouraged. Of course, this is not true of every porn film, as in all genres of porn there are films that most definitely punish women for being sexually active, all for the pleasure of the voyeuristic viewer (the recent series Pornstar Punishment is only the most literal manifestation of this). But this applies to all media, and when taken as a whole, pornography has consistently provided me with representations of women as sexual subjects unashamed of their sexuality.
Part of being a protagonist means owning the gaze in some way. Petites does this in a manner that reminded me of how the pornographic male sexual object/subject is shown in a naked, erect manner that simply is not seen in the mainstream sphere. The Hollywood double standard of showing female nudity but not male is leveled in porn, and replaced with a different double standard (that of male pleasure over female, yet even this is nowhere near as uniformly employed as the double standard of Hollywood nudity). One Petites scene in particular inverts the famous Fast Times at Ridegmont High scene in which Judge Reinhold masturbates and fantasizes Phoebe Cates emerging from a pool, removing her bikini top. In Petites, it is a girl masturbating, and a boy emerging shirtless from the pool. In a heterosexual porn flick, this feels somewhat radical. This in turn reminded me of what fun, and how subversive, porn can be when it parodies mainstream media in a meaningful way.
Essentially, Petites demonstrates how good porn can be when they take risks, such as fully integrated sex, fractured sex scenes that cut back and forth, and sex used to tell a story. Even in scenes that are “regular” scenes, such as the one between GGG-favourite Celeste Star and Vanessa Cage do not feel out of place. The performers don’t constantly act like their characters, nor do they try too hard to narrativize the sex; it’s just a good sex scene, performed well, doesn't stray outside the boundaries of their characters (i.e. they perform sex acts that seem feasible for the characters we have come to know), and – critically – it’s not too long.
It’s interesting to note that there is an extra disc in this package that has extended sex scenes for those who want them. I have no problem with this whatsoever. Not only is it a good business move to appeal to the raincoat crowd, but I also respect what the raincoat crowd is after. Let’s not forget, a lot of people who watch features are sometimes in the mood for raincoat fare, depending on the circumstances, and I won't belittle those desires. I should imagine a lot of people (most?) will watch the feature in full, and then perhaps watch the extended cuts of the scenes that particularly tickled their fancy.
Enjoy the trailer (which provides a taste of the original soundtrack - did I mention that original songs in porn is one of my very favourite things?) and buy the movie.