Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy (2001) Movie Review

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Scott Gill’s “Porn Star” is a documentary chronicling the existence of Ron Jeremy, the most un-porn star-like man on the face of the planet. Born Ron Hyatt, the man that would become the most recognizable porn actor in the world is too fat, too short, and too hairy to be mistaken for a porn stud, and yet he is. Blessed with a big penis, Jeremy has survived 3 decades in the porn industry, and now attempts to make his way into the mainstream.

“Porn Star”, which opens with an interview with the disheveled Jeremy at 4:00 in the morning, is an oftentimes sad, but always honest, look at Jeremy’s life. Admired and envied by boys and men around the world for having slept with over 4,000 women and performed in over 1,500 adult movies, Jeremy is stripped bear of his defenses and what’s left is a shell of a man. What keeps us from completely feeling pity for him is the fact that Jeremy enjoys his life, to a point. While he is very much aware of his faults and the things that have the potential to make him a tragic figure, the fact that his notoriety has allowed him to party every night with beautiful women and meet big-name celebrities still earn him our envy.

Born to a family of successful professionals, Jeremy’s foray into acting led him to porn. Always craving attention, the 20-something Jeremy only knew that he wanted to be famous. The documentary informs us that Jeremy is no moron; he has a college Masters degree, and was actually a teacher once upon a time! Now a full-fledged porn actor (mostly owing to his substantial penis), Jeremy found the attention that he craved from porn. For a while, anyway.

The need to be accepted by the mainstream remains, and it’s this need that continues to haunt Jeremy as he goes from one mainstream job to another, always telling himself that he’ll quit porn as soon as he gets enough mainstream job to make a living. Of course, as many ex-porn stars have already learned, the stigma of porn lasts much longer than your actual porn career. This becomes obvious when considering Jeremy’s minor roles, little more than cameos, in mainstream fare. As one interviewee says wryly, Jeremy has been cut out of more mainstream cameos than any actor alive. The source of these cuts, we learn, is Jeremy’s reputation catching up to him. Notoriety, it seems, cuts both ways.

Writer/director Scott Gill has chosen a number of familiar faces in and out of the porn industry to talk about Jeremy. Many of the setups are standard interview sessions, but some are borne out of candid fly-on-the-wall moments. One of the most telling moments occur on the set of a porn film, where Jeremy is mercilessly insulted every which way by a younger and more handsome porn actor who shows the veteran nothing but disdain. Later, an up and coming porn actress mentions how much she thinks working with Jeremy will boost her career, only to show her distaste for having to work with him when they actually have to shoot their scene.

Most of “Porn Star” works as a serious documentary. The film is shot with handheld cameras, mostly videos, which give the movie a somewhat cheap look and feel. Gill also intercuts his own footages with stock footages from Jeremy’s movies, and because Jeremy has had such a large variety of roles, Gill is able to use a lot of Jeremy’s scenes to do a rather warped “re-enactment” to Jeremy’s own real life. It works.

The best part about “Porn Star” is that Scott Gill could have easily fallen into hero worship, the way many man-on-the-street interviewees do. It’s to Gill’s credit that he allows Jeremy’s real life, warts and all, to take over the movie. Jeremy’s insecurities, his lack of talent when it comes to comedy, and even Jeremy’s preparations to do a sex scene, comes through. Gill is relentless, all the better to serve the documentary’s serious side.

The most interesting thing to learn about Jeremy is that porn has not made him any happier than when he was a starving actor. Despite all the sex, the beautiful women, and the good money, Jeremy still resorts to consuming food for real pleasure. As Jeremy himself confesses, food takes precedence over women any day, and that perhaps says it all. To all the men out there who thought Jeremy had it made, Jeremy himself will tell you that he doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

Scott J. Gill (director) / Scott J. Gill (screenplay)
CAST: Ron Jeremy, William Margold, Al Goldstein, Al Lewis, Seymore Butts, Sharon Mitchell, Larry Flynt


Buy Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy on DVD

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.