Published Apr 03, 2008What if you received an e-mail containing the names of every sexual partner youd ever had, and ever would have? One would think such a bizarre occurrence would spawn a serious of interesting, thrilling, funny and thoughtful events. In this regard, Sex and Death 101 lets down not only its audience but also its intriguing premise.
When insipid ladies man Roderick Blank (Simon Baker) decides to settle down and marry, he receives a bizarre message chronicling his impressive array of sexual encounters. The most surprising thing about the list is that the names continue past that of his fiancé (Julie Bowen). So he does what any rational man would do: cancel the wedding and begin working through the list.
As one might imagine, shenanigans ensue. Roderick beds internet porn stars, accidentally defiles an octogenarian and is raped by a school bus full of catholic schoolgirls, all the while describing his actions through smug voiceovers and Alfie-style audience directed monologues. Theres also a subplot involving Winona Ryder as a mysterious woman who poisons men post-coitally for some reason.
Writer/director Daniel Waters (the screenwriter of Heathers) initially seems to be examining the male social pattern of infidelity, then quickly deviates from this theme in favour of a litany of dated gags (there are both poop and O.J. jokes), which seem more suited for a Ben Stiller-type comedy than the dark, edgy satire the film positions itself to be.
While combining genres often yields strong results, Waters employs the worst elements of each style he borrows from: the jokes are disturbing but predictable; the protagonist is unlikeable and uncompelling. In Waters film women are either vacuous nymphomaniacs or murderous feminists. Men are simpletons, more willing to commit necrophilia than commit to marriage.
The only lesson Sex and Death 101 teaches is how to further tired Hollywood stereotypes. (Anchor Bay)