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The Opposite of Sex

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Opposite of Sex

Starring: Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan
Director: Don Roos
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 1998
Genres: Comedy, Gay/Lesbian

*Also starring: Lisa Kudrow, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Galecki, Ivan Sergei, Heather Lee

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Of all the movie titles with the S-E-X word, this one may well be the most bewildering. It's like saying, "What's the opposite of 'mirror?'" According to the lead character, Dedee, the opposite of sex is lasting, committed and loving relationships. Now, then, lasting relationships may be furthered by sexual intimacy, so the terms are hardly diametrical. Despite the awkward label given to this Sony Pictures Classics release, the movie is for the most part involving, summoning up a number of laughs at the particularly shrewish dialogue while at other times the cast members seem to think they're in a live sitcom waiting for the chuckles to come before proceeding to the next line.

For those who say that sixteen-year-olds are too innocent to enter into any form of sex, Dedee Truitt (Christina Ricci) provides a rebuttal. Street-wise well beyond her years, this small but endowed young woman can not only match the vocabulary of a drunken sailor; she can come up with quite a few witty, caustic, prescient remarks. Movie cognoscenti will find her particularly amusing when she discusses the nature of film, which she does now and then as the narrator of the piece. When she has had it up to her bosom with her mother's torments, for example, she packs her bag, includes her gun and makes sure to tell the audience to mark that well: it's an example of foreshadowing.

Her story: the tough, seemingly invulnerable, promiscuous Dedee heads from her Louisiana home to Indiana to crash the pad of her uncle Bill (Martin Donovan), a gay high-school teacher living with the handsome Matt (Ivan Sergei). With a complete disregard for political correctness she seduces Matt by implying that his homosexuality is abnormal, accusing him of prejudice if he does not sleep with her. When Dedee announces her pregnancy, naming Matt as the father, Bill feels betrayed by his apparently bi-sexual partner, who leaves for L.A. with his white-trash girlfriend. Meanwhile Bill is accused by a former boyfriend, Jason (Johnny Galecki) of molestation when Jason was a student at the high school, Bill's job is in jeopardy, and he is out $10,000 which Dedde has stolen.

Writer-director Don Roos is best known for his script to "Single White Female," so we can expect him to write strong roles for women. True to form, the women in this picture far outshine the men in barbs and Lisa Kudrow proves the most amusing as Bill's best friend, Lucia. Lucia, sexually repressed, has convinced herself that physical intimacy is, if not disgusting, just plain wet and greasy. The 28-year-old virgin's views are about to invert. Her features resembling the outer skin of a prune, she walks through the movie disapproving of anything and everything, as bitter as Dedee but substituting criticism for Dedee's Betty-Davis wit.

The film tries to offend various groups in its projected audience, but the barbs about homosexuality are too well known by now to wound and while Roos does not cop out by finding a heart of gold within Dedee's breast, his final celebration of home and hearth undercuts the acerbity.

Copyright 1998 Harvey Karten

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