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Pineapple (2008)

Director: Damian Skinner
Starring: Stephen Chester Prince, Eliza Swenson, Gabriela Ostos-Tamez, Lee Tergesen, Smackola
Rated R Running time: 85 minutes
Released by Desire/Maverick

This Austin-filmed indie tells the story of Andrew (Stephen Chester Prince), a white collar dad whose world gets rocked when he catches his wife sleeping with another man. With his ego bruised and his personal life in shambles, Andrew does what beaten down men usually do in times of extreme emotional duress -- he heads down to the nearest strip club. What starts as way to lick his wounds, drink a few beers, and watch some bootyshaking turns into something else when he becomes involved with one of the club's dancers, a sexy, but deeply troubled, woman named Cristal. They begin a relationship that's full of cocaine and rough sex, and it isn't long before Andrew's "normal" life begins to suffer. At first it's as simple as having a drained bank account and a constant hangover. He eventually contracts an embarrassing case of the creepy crawlies, and his domestic situation takes a turn for the worse. Ignoring both the affections of a sexy co-worker (Gabriela Ostos-Tamez) and advice from his buddy (Lee Tergesen), Andrew slips deeper and deeper into the seedy world of strippers and drugs. Eventually, Andrew runs afoul of a drug dealer (Smackola) , his sexual relations with Cristal become more and more violent, and he ends up having to decide whether or not living the wild life is worth all the trouble.

I found myself enjoying Pineapple's weird mix of melodrama and exploitation more than I probably should have. While the film doesn't really sell the decent-man's-descent-into-Hell angle, a steady stream of strippers, gangsters (however unconvincing), and lurid plot developments made me enjoy watching Andrew's life become a slow-motion train wreck. Eliza Swenson is easy on the eyes and disrobes frequently, and Prince does a respectable job as the unstable yuppie whose life is unraveling faster than he realizes. The rest of the performances are about what you'd expect from a very low budget flick. Skinner does a good job of stretching a dollar (I would bet a chunk of the price tag went to former Oz star Lee Tergesen), and gives the production a look that is a good deal better than some of its comparably priced peers. I suspect some viewers will be led to believe that Pineapple is a straightforward skinflick after seeing the DVD cover art, which depicts Swenson in full-on stripper regalia. Pineapple features a little too much heavy drama to satisfy the raincoat crowd, but is sleazy enough to keep exploitation fans happy. Skinner deserves a pat on the back for taking a cliched story and a low budget and making it into something that is more entertaining than most of the similarly-themed "erotic thrillers" that are clogging the market. 

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