by Eric D. Snider
Released: June 27, 2003
There is nothing special about "On_Line." It thinks it is new and exciting because it features the Internet in a starring role, but it's really the same old "people are lonely" whining, only with new technology.
Taking place in January 2002 (yet featuring several shots of the Twin Towers -- whoops!), "On_Line" is about two guys who run a sex-oriented Web site, Intercon-X.com. John Roth (Josh Hamilton) is the quiet, business-oriented guy, while his business partner Moe Curley (Harold Perrineau) has a different woman over practically every night of the week.
John is still pining for his ex-fiancee, who broke his heart a year ago. Now, tentatively, he seeks out new companionship with one of the exotic girls on his site. Her name is Jordan Nash (Vanessa Ferlito), and she's used to guys logging on just to -- how does one put this delicately? -- pretend to have sex with her. She's a cyber-whore, though I imagine she prefers a less pejorative term.
Moe, meanwhile, might actually settle down with a self-conscious artist named Moira (Isabel Gillies), who also strikes up a friendship with John.
More meanwhile, Jordan is friends with a fellow New Yorker named Al (John Fleck), who is also a cyber-whore at Intercon-X, albeit it a gay one. Al has a regular customer, a closeted Ohio college student named Ed (Eric Millegan), who desperately wants a real partner, one who doesn't require his credit card number before proceeding.
Writer/director Jed Weintrob -- an admitted online junkie since the very early days of the Internet -- deserves credit for making scenes of people chatting over the Internet seem interesting. He uses split screens like they're going out of style -- oh, wait, they DID go out of style -- and comes up with a number of other techniques to keep the action moving, even if the characters are seated and miles apart from each other.
What he can't seem to do, however, is make this any different from the innumerable movies already made on the subject of New Yorkers finding love. A development late in the game suggests the theme of online communities banding together in real life, but it doesn't last long or add up to much. Ed is a sympathetic character, and John Fleck is fantastically oily as his online partner; the rest of the performances are adequate and unmemorable. Those completely unfamiliar with the world of online sex may find it enlightening, or they may just find it creepy. Either way, they're right.
Rated R, abundant harsh profanity, some graphic sexuality, a lot of nudity
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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