Sunday, August 26, 2007

Speaking of Sex

Speaking of Sex; Comedy, USA, 2001; D: John McNaughton, S: James Spader, Melora Walters, Jay Mohr, Lara Flynn Boyle, Bill Murray, Catherine O'Hara, Phil LaMarr, Megan Mullally

Melinda and her husband Dan visit Dr. Emily Paige, a marriage counselor, because they have problems in bed - namely, Dan can't get an erection with Melinda. Emily sends Melinda to Dr. Roger Klin, a clumsy psychiatrist, to help her get rid of depression. But the two of them quickly start a passionate affair and then separate. Infuriated by that, Emily hires lawyer Connie and persuades Melinda to sue Roger for 30 million $. Roger on the other hand hires lawyer Ezri to defend him. A hearing starts out and the tape of Melinda's description of their affair leaks and becomes a hit at public. In the end, it is discovered Emily was once Roger's lover that taught him all the techniques so Ezri and Connie decide to drop charges against Roger and instead sue her. Melinda and Dan escape to a mountain cabin and have passionate intercourse while Roger and Emily reunite again.

This film starts rather decently and witty: the main hero, Dr. Roger, arrives at a the door of a remote mountain cottage, calling: "Melinda! Melinda! It's me!" He hears strange noises inside and storms in nervously, spotting Melinda sleeping with a man in bed. Roger is shocked and says: "Melinda! How could you? Sleeping...with your own husband?!!" Although wacky and zany, that exposition actually announces a nice and satirical comedy that amusingly turns the cliches upside down. Even later on, when the story goes into a flashback and the whole back story is told, does the film still hold it's potentials: the first third, where psychiatrist Roger gets a new patient, Melinda, who has marital problems, and falls in love with her, has it's amusing moments, among them even one madly hilarious scene, so carefully and tightly directed that it simply must be described: Melinda is explaining to Roger how she one evening spotted her husband Dan sleeping and went on to try to kiss his penis and arouse him. A flashback, dream-like scene embodies her retelling, showing Melinda kissing a man's underpants, while the camera slowly shows his face and reveals that it's actually Roger's, making an astound facial expression - and then it blends in into Roger in the reality making that same facial expression and revealing it became his fantasy.
The first third is interesting, but once the whole court tangle starts, where Melinda sues Roger, the whole thing falls apart. From there on nothing works and every gags seems forced or inane. The biggest problem is that the funny trio relationship between Dan, Melinda and Roger is dropped and they are slowly pushed in the background while more and more supporting characters take over the court story: Bill Murray and Catherine O'Hara play they roles as greedy lawyers very well and offer an amusing insight into the law system that sues on every charge just to squeeze some money, but it's really uneven compared to the charming start, turning confusing and lame. Everyone tries their best, even the competent director John McNaughton, but the inspiration simply fails to appear. It's one of those films that have good intentions and potentials, tackling a tricky issue, but develop the wrong parts of the story. Still, James Spader once again gave another contribution to his gallery of unusual films handling intercourse.


No comments: