Melvin, a geeky Jewish antique shop owner with an overbearing mother, is a big fan of adult actress Tina Russell. He finds a jar with a female genie inside who agrees to turn him into porn actors from Tina’s movies.
It’s an odd one, something of a hardcore update to the classic Borscht-belt style Jewish comedy that exploded in the 50s and 60s (see also: Sarno’s early film Pandora and the Magic Box). It’s a comedy style that can trace its roots back to the Old Testament wandering Jew, using self-deprecation to offset Biblical troubles, but is most well known for its popularity within the Catskills summer resorts of the mid-twentieth century, and can still be seen in modern films like American Pie, or the directorial masterpieces of Ben Stiller. It’s the kind of comedy where an orgasm is done for laughs, and the cumshot gets its own comedic sound effect. Which is exactly what you’ll find in A Touch of Genie. For better or worse.
Even if the comedy isn’t for you, the film features an interesting time capsule to the trash-filled NYC streets of the early 70s, and a glimpse into a world in which Tina Russell is a household name (as it should be).