May 15, 2000 12:00 PM

Showtime (Sat, May 13, 9 p.m. ET)

It’s hard to splice together a satiric take on the porno-film business and a harrowing picture of drug addiction. Director Emilio Estevez makes a bold attempt in Rated X, in which he and Charlie Sheen star as dirty-movie moguls Jim and Artie Mitchell (best known for 1972’s Behind the Green Door). As brothers playing brothers, Estevez and Sheen establish a believable relationship marked by mutual dependency (Artie has the brainstorms; Jim gets things done) and destructiveness (their enterprise is fueled—and ultimately doomed—by drugs). Even to a viewer unaware of Sheen’s own substance-abuse problems, his performance as cokehead Artie careening round the bend will be unnervingly realistic.

The film’s main problem is that the Mitchells don’t seem much worth caring about before their lives hit the rocks. The brothers are fairly funny batting around double entendres to use in movie ads, but they’re hardly what you’d call sympathetic. When Jim shoots and kills an out-of-control Artie in 1991 (he served nearly three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter), the shock wears off all too quickly.

Bottom Line: Uneven, but rates a look

You May Like