Ashley Hinshaw is very attractive, whether in clothes or otherwise. This fact goes along way toward making this movie enjoyable. However, not enough. The problem is that the movie is more of an idea than a worked out story. The idea behind the film is that people who work at disrespected jobs (i.e. porn stars) are actually more kind, loving and honest and, therefore, are more respectable human beings than are people who work at socially respectable jobs (i.e. lawyers).
Obviously, this is not particularly true. So, the film maker chooses to bore his audience by overly focusing on the tedious background of the characters. He spends 40 of the 105 minutes on the "set up" before getting to the story proper. This is done in the apparent hope that delaying the action will signify he is portraying "reality" rather than making "fantasy". That hope, however, fails as the movie itself is basically an adult fairy tale.
Which is to say that, except for "Cherry", none of the characters are particularly developed and none has his/her own storyline. In fact, each of them is more a stereotype than an individual person. You have the "always angry, always drunk hulking father who might just have incestual desires for his daughter" (seen him in so many films but never in true life), the "drunken mother who cannot take care of herself, let alone her family, and so is always emotionally manipulative" (again, so common in films and almost always paired with the "angry father" giving us the classic insight that male=brute and female=manipulator), the "shy male best friend who secretly pines for the girl who, in turn, treats him as if he were castrated" (a necessary character in every teen romantic comedy, see Jon Cryer as "Ducky" in "Pretty in Pink" from the 80s), and the "charming successful lover who actually is a spoiled rich kid at heart full of self-pity at having to give up his dreams to appease his family's honor" (isn't there always a charming rich guy who turns out to be a jerk in every romantic comedy, say Bradley Cooper's character in "Wedding Crashers").
Then, you have "Cherry".
"Cherry" - like "Snow White" - is pure as the driven snow, forever loving and sweet despite her unpleasant upbringing. She has no dark side. Just loveliness, a nice rack and booty, and a willingness to sell her sexuality for profit. She is that ultimate male fantasy, the "virgin whore" - an innocent who brings hope and joy to whomever she meets, particularly when she meets them in bed. Unfortunately, this means that she also does not have ambition, greed, jealousy or any other "sour" emotion which might "pollute" her (and, otherwise, make her into an interesting character). Of course, unambitious people generally do not succeed in life. Fortunately for Cherry, she lives in film fairy tale land and, so, despite her lack of ambition she is still able to magically succeed by staying true to her dream of making it in the sex trade. Unfortunately for her, everyone else in her life has been "damaged" by their willingness to "sell out" on their dreams and, otherwise, "conform" so they can be seen as "socially respectable". So, the "great insight" of the movie is that such inauthentic persons, because they live reputedly "respectable" lives, often "look down" on authentic people like Cherry out of envy and spite.
That moral, however, is confounded.
First, Cherry is actually no different from the other characters. In fact, it was not Cherry's dream to become a porn actor. That happened to be the most profitable choice for her to make since she has a limited education. Fortunately for her, she had a pretty face and a smoking body. Otherwise, working at Taco Bell was her choice. Similarly, the other characters made choices which were to their profit at the time but which they may now regret. To the extent that Cherry doesn't regret being a porn actor, that is because she has just started at it and so hasn't had time to know if it meets her long-term needs. Additionally, her "personality" is portrayed as always "sunny" - so her lack of bitterness is not because of her choices but innate to her as a person. Simply put, she is not - as the film would like to imply - "living her dream" and, therefore, living an "authentic" life. She decided to screw men in front of a camera to make her rent, not because she refuses to "sell out".
Second, without judging the morality of porn, its social value is extremely limited (which is not to say it doesn't have a great human value, given that apparently over one-half of internet searches are for nude pictures). If it is an art form, it is a very minor one since it primarily is used to cause sexual arousal. No one watches a porn for its story nor is watching porn a profound artistic experience. In point of fact, I've seen all of the so-called "artistic" porns from the 70s, such as "Deep Throat" and "Behind the Green Door". None is as remotely insightful regarding human nature and society as is this movie and this movie is only adequate as a work of art when compared to you average Hollywood film.
Now, the counterpoint in the film are two lawyers who are lovers of porn industry workers. Each lawyer judges the porn worker. The film implies this is wrong since each person is doing what they have chosen to do and one human's choice is no better than another human's choice. Of course, we don't live as individual humans but as humans within a society (In example, it is a federal crime to say you are thinking of killing the President, but no such crime is committed if you state you are thinking of killing me. Each human may be equally as valuable as the next, however, in society some humans have more value. Which is to say, we live in a social world, not in a human(e) world).
Unlike porn, justice is foundational to society and, therefore, like it or not a lawyer will be viewed as more essential to society than a porn actor. People are not kind. Unless and until porn is shown to have a significant social value, people will always value a person in the law profession as more important than a person in the porn industry and, accordingly, it is not surprising that a lawyer would value himself higher than a porn actor. To state this stereotypical valuation is unfair on a human level (rather than a social level) is obvious - yet this is the "big insight" of this movie.
Third, the "Cherry" character is hypocritical. One of the primary messages of this film is that porn is just as worthy a profession as the legal profession. Fair enough. If so, however, then Cherry's reaction to Andrew's viewing of pornography puts the lie to that claim. Andrew is the aforementioned "male best friend". He has loyally supported Cherry throughout the movie and supported her porn career even though he loves her. Despite knowing men watch porn videos to become sexually excited, Cherry feels she has been unforgivably betrayed by Andrew when she discovers him sexually aroused while watching one of her videos. In other words, the ultimate message is that Cherry wants her "freedom" to express herself pornographically but does not want to "suffer" the reality that porn is not art but a means to an end for most men. So, she too is inauthentic since she lies to herself about the emotional consequences of choosing to make pornography. In sum, if she truly is proud of her life choice then she should be proud that Andrew is using her work for what everybody knows it is used - to jerk off.
Even worse, she uses this "betrayal" to cast Andrew out of her life and start shacking up with a rich porn producer she barely knows. Not nice - yet we are suppose to sympathize with Cherry and cheer on her "successful" relationship with this barely known producer. Happy ending all around. High five! Except it's all forced as are the expected reactions throughout the movie since everyone in the porn industry is just "sweet as pie" and everyone working at a socially acceptable job is just a "bitter (self-righteous) pill".
Reality is three-dimensional and grey. When something is portrayed in a stereotypical manner as if every person and situation is metaphorically either black or white, it is propaganda. While it tries to hide its intent, this film has no interest in portraying a grey world. The people in its world are portrayed in a black or white manner. I don't know about you, but I watch a movie to be entertained, not to be preached to. This movie too often preaches - and not in a good way.
On a final note, casting James Franco as a successful attorney is terrible casting. A successful attorney may be a jerk, however, he won't be moody and sulking. Mr. Franco loves to brood, to have "soulful eyes". You don't make it in a highly competitive profession, such as law, by being brooding or "soulful". Perhaps the film maker realized the character was essentially a stereotype and believed he had to cast against type to give "reality" to the stereotype. If so, he failed. Casting Mr. Franco marred this film.
Dev Patel was able to bring the "Andrew" character to life. Which is notable given how limited the character obviously was on paper. The movie would have been twice as good if his character had been developed rather than left to be the stereotypical "loser nice-guy friend".
Ashley Henshaw was solid, however, she lacked the capacity to provide complexity to "Cherry". She seemed to like playing the innocent slut too much and never realized that doing so left the character a piece of fiction rather than a reflection of real life. Still, she was quietly effective in many scenes - particularly when she watches her first boyfriend celebrate with his buddy once he has talked her into posing nude for the first time. She brought more than just line reading to the character. Very promising.