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Studio: Vivid » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 5/3/07

XCritic's Advice: Recommended


Vivid Entertainment

Genre: Feature

Director: Paul Thomas

Cast: Briana Banks, Kurt Lockwood, Penny Flame, Joey, Tom Byron, Kylie Ireland, Marcos Leon, Jerry, Barry Scott, Hillary Scott, Brooke Haven, Evan Stone, Haley Scott, Tyce Bune
Non-sex roles: There were many but they were all uncredited, including Eli Cross.

Length: 167:24 minutes

Date of Production: 2/22/2006

Extra's: Due to the length of the movie, the second disc had all of the extras. Those of you that like bonus scenes with some editing to them will appreciate the usual five provided here; including: Driving Mercedez Wild, starring Mercedez and Trevor Zen; Happily Never After, starring Briana Banks and Eric Masterson; Kink, starring Janine, Racquel Darrian, and Corrine Williams; ECU Lexie, starring Lexie Marie, Tommy Gunn, and Jean Val Jean; and Wife Swappers starring Monique Alexander and Trent Tesoro. There was also a text biography for Briana Banks, 3 photogalleries, spam, trailers for movies like Tera Patrick's Fashion Underground, Debbie Does Dallas Again, Emperor, and Burnt Fury. My favorite of the bunch was the 24:59 minute long Behind the Scenes by Ben Hoffman though as it added some interviews, anecdotes, and extra sex for fans of the cast to appreciate (pretty solid music for the opener and some other parts too).

Condoms: Some

Audio/Video Quality: Layout was presented in 1.85:1 ratio letterboxed widescreen color as shot in HD by director Paul Thomas for release by Vivid Entertainment. The lighting was generally good but the movie was shot on film and that meant there was a lot of grain in all of the scenes, some of them worse than others. If you watch the movie on a small screen CRT television, it won't be as readily apparent but the larger your TV is, the worse it gets (and quickly). Aside from the horrible grain permeating the movie, the visuals actually showed a lot of skill and the movie's bitrate seemed to be in the 5 Mbps range much of the time. The composition of the shots was decent in how it enhanced the look of the ladies, who all looked fine to begin with, adding to the visual treat of their performances but there were some choices made that didn't work all that well. The audio was presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital English with a 192 Kbps bitrate with minimal separation and the usual amount of dynamic range. The vocals were always dominant but I liked some of the music; it was a shame that no one credited a band (maybe it was Kurt's?).

-- sponsored by --

Body of Review: Paul Thomas has been a fixture at Vivid Entertainment for years now, the company seeming to set up shop around him as he gets all their choice projects. One that may slip through the cracks due to the media blitz surrounding Debbie Does Dallas Again is a spiffy little satire called Layout. The movie is a send up of some of the industry practices that take place, largely centering on the exploits of the employees of AVG magazine (a thinly disguised version of AVN; tacitly approved of by their main writer Mark Kernes as evidenced by his quote on the cover). While the specific plot points were usually generalizations of people and events over the years, the concept of payoffs for favorable treatment, the lack of journalistic integrity, and other popular claims directed at the trade icon were not unnoticed. The back cover said it like this: "Hollywood, CA. A young reporter accepts a position at adult trade mag powerhouse AVG, and becomes immersed in the strange world where pornography and journalism meet. Gradually he grows from an eager cub reporter into a sophisticated writer, surviving the distractions and pitfalls one would expect in the pornalism game ... like full-on bondage and non-stop, hardcore anal sex ... stop the presses. Briana Banks is the lead ... Tom Byron's the sidebar ... and Paul Thomas is at the desk. Any resemblance to AVN is purely intentional." While Mark was spared a character of his own in the version that made it to this print, I wondered if he saw a different version given his quote on the front cover of the case. Still, it had a lot of extras, numerous pairings, and a limited story that evoked a few smiles from me along the way. Here's a quick look at the scenes by cast and action, noting that some condoms were used:

Scene One: A Good Pop: Briana Banks, the contract hotty gracing the front cover, was up first in a scene with Kurt Lockwood in a living room. They tumbled around and he orally worked her over, leading to her taking charge of his rod with her mouth engulfing it in her usual, energetic manner. She made those endearing glub glub noises of hers but only a little bit as the oral ended too soon to have him poking her pussy. That ultimately led to him boning her ass but he did all of the work so it wasn't the best opening scene for a porno. It ended with her taking the facial and fussing about it as part of the story.

Scene Two: Doing Something: Penny Flame, one of the zaniest gals in porn these days, was up next in a lesbian scene with Joey. Neither of them were looking very appealing this time as Penny looked like she was woken from a deep sleep and Joey seemed to be tired but they did manage to mix things up with a bondage light scene (complete with Joey bound, candle wax, and Penny brandishing a riding crop). Penny went down on her but that was the extent of the sexual activity before it ended.

Scene Three: Driving The Boss Crazy: Penny Flame, all stressed out and smoking a cigarette, was up next in an alleyway with Tom Byron lifting her skirt to get a peek of her pussy. He got a few licks of her lollipop and that was all she wrote as his limited fingering faded away into the next scene. What a waste of Penny!

Scene Four: Still Gorgeous: Kylie Ireland, playing a retired superstar trying to make a comeback, seduced AVG reporter Marcos Leon as part of her scheme to gain favorable press coverage. This scene was particularly grainy and as the duo pawed each other, I reminded myself that film as a recording medium in porn is a very bad idea. There was limited oral and she gave one of those over the top performances that catered to the script more than the sex; the scene fading away before completion (ie: he never popped and they did very little screwing).

Scene Five: Getting An Eyeful: Kylie Ireland, Joey, Jerry, and Barry Scott, all participated in the next scene that took place outdoors on a sunny day. The action was caught midstream but it had the basics covered better than some of the other scenes in the flick by a big margin. The couples did some 69 with Jerry doing Kylie as Barry boned Joey. Kylie did some anal as flies buzzed her crotch and the camera spent more time watching her than Joey's interactions; Kylie getting DP'ed while Joey sat back uselessly behind her. That the scene was edited into a B&W montage from the truncated previous scene did not help it much but I still found some strokable material to enjoy. Like other parts of the movie, some of the footage was handled in video rather than film, making it look disjointed as a result. Kylie took the facial while Joey took the abdomen pop for those who care.

Scene Six: There's My Girl: Briana Banks, tied to the toilet in her sexy black lingerie, was up next as she submitted to the will of dominatrix Penny Flame. This was one of those times when miscasting a role weakens the overall theme yet the sex between them was substantially better than Penny's previous scene in the flick. There was some extensive toy use here, including BDSM implements and a decent sized strap on dildo; the smoke filled room providing a grainy but sexually appealing setting for these two to enjoy. It was an energetic ride that worked on the merits of the sex at the expense of the story elements but I'm a fan of the ladies so your own mileage may vary.

Scene Seven: The Three Muskatettes: Hillary Scott, Brooke Haven, Briana Banks, and the mighty Evan Stone, were up next as part of a porn shoot where the ladies were dressed in costumes indicative of the mainstream movie with Evan as a king getting his pipes cleaned after the ladies saved the day. As a spoof on big budget features as seen from the eyes of a writer, it was funny though the sex itself was well done, despite the condom and all that nasty anal sex that took place. Hillary took to cock better than her two pals (who spent some quality time engaged in lesbian antics) but all of the ladies appeared to appreciate some cock in the scene and Briana gave a much better showing this time. Evan popped on all three of them but it sure took him a long time to rub it out this time.

Scene Eight: Warren's Latest Trick: Haley Scott, Penny Flame, and Joey, were up next as submissive to a transvestite Tyce Bune in a parlor of depravity. I have to give Tyce credit for allowing himself to look like such a loser in all his feminine make up & clothing though his role for the entire movie could easily have been phoned in. There was some minor anal sex but the editing was piss poor here and weakened the scene for me as much as the over use of close up shots. Interestingly, Joey seemed to connect with him more than the other two with the majority of the scene focusing on oral and some vaginal play between the players. The facial mostly missed Penny's face and the abuse sex angle was obviously not one of PT's strengths at shooting.

Scene Nine: Excitement In The Aisle: Kylie Ireland and Marcos Leon, having gotten lost looking for their car after the premier of the Muskateers porno parody, ducked into a porn store for some kicks. Kylie took him behind a row of movies to start slobbing his knob; the blowjob proving to be one of the best of the movie, albeit a bit limited. The fellow perverts watched them and she took the wad into her mouth after jamming a toy in her ass, the couple rushing out after that.

Scene Ten: Overtime: Penny Flame, having been largely cheated out of any real male action to this point, ended up having a scene with a drunken Tom Byron as he explained the latest breaking news about the fate of "Rosetta Stone" on the news. They ended up in an office liaison, giving each other head before screwing heatedly on the copy table where she provided substantial dirty talk and an active ride. It was a lot better than the opener of the movie and ended when he busted a large nut on her face. Whew!

Summary: Layout by director Paul Thomas for release by Vivid Entertainment had enough decent sex and extras to warrant a rating of Recommended for me, the technical limitations of film weakening it almost as much as some of the less inspired sexual pairings that were often truncated. Distilled to it's core essence, the movie seemed to hold back too often on the plot points, almost as if warned to do so by the trade organization it was poking fun at. The mixture of film and video also added a layer of problems that made me wonder if some of the action was captured after the fact as pick up material to cover what was edited out, but I think there was enough here for fans to enjoy nonetheless. In short, Layout was a nice first volley as a look at AVN's darker side but a lot more polishing up was needed to make it as good as it could have been.

You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon

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