April 18, 2011

Queer Review: The Opposite of Sex (1998)

The Opposite of Sex
Director: Don Roos
Writer: Don Roos
Cast: Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan, Lisa Kudrow, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Galecki, William Lee Scott, Ivan Sergei

Some movies are great because they provide critical insight into the human condition. Others are great because they entertain and can make audiences laugh, distracting them from said human condition. The Opposite of Sex attempts to do both, but while failing to say anything interesting about human sexuality, it does succeed at being a hilarious look at the lives of several individuals drawn into increasingly outrageous events.

When Dede Truitt (Christina Ricci) moves in with her half-brother Bill Truitt (Martin Donovan). She finds herself attracted to Matt (Ivan Sergei), Bill's live in boy friend and earns the scorn of Lucia DeLury (Lisa Kudrow) the sister of Bill's deceased lover, Tom. It is not long before Dede is able to seduce Matt and shortly thereafter, she announces that she's pregnant. After Dede and Matt flee, Jason (Johnny Galecki) wanting to know where Matt is, blackmails Bill by accusing Bill of having molested him when he was Bill's student. Things are made even more complicated when Randy 'One Ball' Cates (William Lee Scott) - the real father of Dede's child - reenters the picture.

The Queering
In spite of The Opposite of Sex's attempts to the contrary, very rarely does it provide any intelligent insight into human relationships. The charaters frequently talk about sex and their experiences, but rarely does anyone say anything truly insightful. The most interesting thing said by any of the characters, is when Sheriff Carl Tippett (Lyle Lovett), who had pursued Lucia for most of the movie, observes that the purpose of sex does not appear to be for procreation or recreation but for focusing our attention on each other.

However, that does not stop The Opposite of Sex from being a whole lot of fun. This is still a well-written motion picture with some nicely developed characters. The plot zips along with several surprising twists and turns on it's journey to the characters final destinations.

Christina Ricci's performance as the troubled Dede is brilliantly caustic. Dede is highly cynical and while narrating the film shows she is not afraid of having fun at the audiences expense. At one critical juncture, she shows a serious of events that did not happen and then laughs at the audience for having been fooled by that scene.

While Christina Ricci's performance and narration is the standout, most of the cast is just as good. Martin Donovan, Lisa Kudrow, and Lyle Lovett all give strong performances. Johnny Galecki, William Lee Scott, and Ivan Sergei are not on the same level, but are not terrible.

Ambitious motion pictures should not be punished if they do not fail to achieve all of the goals they set out to accomplish. While The Opposite of Sex fails in some areas, it still manages to be a well written, well acted, and highly clever concoction.

The Rating

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