Rated X is a film about the (ahem) adult film industry, so sensitive eyes might want to stop reading this review now. It stacks up well against other films of the genre, such as Boogie Nights (although it’s not as funny), and The People vs. Larry Flynt (although it’s not as political). The film tells a frequently unfulfilled dream: two brothers (well played by real-life brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen) want to make porn that isn’t just cheap and tacky, but tells a story.
The film initially portrays a glitzy and glamorous world, with one of the brothers snorting coke in virtually every other scene, and (surprise surprise) beautiful women at every turn. It isn’t constantly hilarious, but some scenes - such as their mother being shown their directorial efforts or them having to negotiate IP issues over their films with New York mobsters - nevertheless put a smile on the face.
The brothers fight often - such as over the directorship of the now-classic film Behind the Green Door - but the story doesn’t start to fall apart until the second part of the film, where market forces push them into the sleazier world of running a strip club, and their relationships start to strain. The film’s end sequence - a confrontation between the brothers - is a little self-indulgent on the part of Estevez (who also directed), but is moody and adds an interesting touch.
Rated X isn’t a film you’ll enjoy if you’re disapproving of the adult industry, but it is a real-life tale that reflects the lives of some trailblazers, and holds the attention fairly consistently.