Sex and Death 101
A modern Casanova
receives a mysterious e-mail listing every woman he's ever slept with, in
chronological order. He thinks it is a prank engineered by his pals until he
realizes that there are 101 names on the list and he has only had sex with the
first 29. He freaks out totally when the next two women on the list are the next
two women he has sex with. The high-concept explanation is offered by a trio of
... angels, I guess ... some nearly omniscient guys who tell him that the list
is for real and details every women he will ever sleep with until he dies.
You can see from the premise that I could easily be writing about one of those
high-concept 1970s Italian sex farces, but this is actually a new American
movie, and it's not a bad little comedy, with some intriguing ideas, many of
them politically incorrect.
Of course the idea is silly and impossible, but some very good and thoughtful
comedies have come out of similar concepts. Consider Groundhog Day, for example,
which is similar to this film in using a far-fetched premise to create a film
that walks a thin line between a thoughtful examination of human nature and
outright farce. The two most important thing an author has to do with a premise
like this are: (1) to assume the plausibility of the idea, and to get the
characters to react as any of us would react in the same odd circumstances; (2)
to get the maximum comedic and philosophical mileage out of the idea. I give
this author a thumb up on both counts, for producing some good laughs and
raising some interesting questions at the same time.
What would you do if you were about to get married and your fiancée were only 29
on a list of 101? Would you call off the wedding, knowing that you would cheat
on her, or worse, that she might die soon? What would you do when you meet the
woman of your dreams, and she's NOT on the list. What would you do if a
centerfold babe from a rich family were next on the list? Would you still make
an effort to seduce her romantically, or would you just be selfish and cavalier,
knowing full well that you were going to get laid anyway? If her father were in
the room, would you still go after her right then and there, knowing that he
can't do much harm to you because you still have seventy more women on your
list? How would you react when the next name on the list turned out to be a man?
What would you do if a known serial killer were the last one on the list? (It's
a killer of serial seducers, no less!)
Some of those situations are exploited for lowbrow laughs. He goes to the
Playmate's bedroom and screws her senseless. The next morning she asks why he
never showed up. It turns out that somebody else in her family's mansion has the
exact same name - and the implications of that are totally disgusting! Other
situations are used to reflect on some interesting aspects of human nature.
Most of the the comedy and nudity are concentrated in the first half, making the
second half more sentimental and contemplative. Groundhog Day, the most similar
film, essentially works the same way, and both are true to the premise in that
the central character is human, not omniscient, and must therefore gradually
learn how to deal with his seemingly impossible situation. In both films the
protagonist begins the process by thinking too little and messing up too much,
and that generates the laughs. As time goes on both protagonists learn to use
the gift/curse, and as they become wiser their buffoonery is reduced, so the
film edges out of farce and into a more reflective mode.
The writer/director wrote two other films I like, Heathers and Demolition Man,
two more politically incorrect comedies with interesting things to say about the
world. Heathers is considered a cult classic, and I have often argued that
Demolition Man is a very funny movie which is radically underrated by IMDb
voters at 6.1 because people tend to treat it as a mediocre action movie instead
of a spoof. The IMDb crowd definitely likes Sex and Death 101 so far, having
scored it a stellar 7.9, albeit with limited voter participation. It will
undoubtedly end up lower than that, but it is a fine effort, a good
entertainment film with some brains as a bonus!
I would have enjoyed the film even without the nudity, but that is also very
stimulating. Winona Ryder gives it up briefly in her first topless scene. Sophie
Monk walks around naked from head to toe in excellent light. Natassia Malthe and
Pollyanna McIntosh get out their breasts for an energetic three-way with our
hero. Jessica Kiper shows her breasts and 99% of her bum in panties about as
wide as dental floss.
Here are the scenes not covered in yesterday's edition:
I Know Who Killed Me
I forgot this yesterday. Although Lohan does no nudity in this film, this
is the closest she comes, and probably the sexiest frame of her strip acts:
Another attempt to resuscitate the 80s!
Our hero Spence has just graduated from college, is engaged, and is
headed for Yale Law if he can get a good recommendation from the senior
partner at the law firm where he's interning for the summer. He'd probably
be on his way to a mundane life if not for his best friend Hogan, a complete
slacker whose entire goal in life is to bed as many "experienced" women as
possible. Needless to say, Spence's parents and girlfriend want him to cut
loose the Hogan anchor in order to achieve his full potential, but Spence is
not that kind of guy, He's willing to work hard and study his ass off and
even to suck up to disgusting law partners, but Hogan is his friend and
that's the final word on the matter.
That was either a very good call on his part or a very bad one depending
on your attitude toward what happens next. Hogan realizes that there are
plenty of other young guys like him who want the unlimited recreational and
commitment-free sex available from horny older women, and he knows from
personal experience that there are thousands of horny older women who would
love to reciprocate the attention they would get from those young men. It's
a win-win situation for anyone who can find a profitable way to bring the
two groups together for sportfuckin'. So Hogan talks Spence into forming
Cougar Club, in which they charge the male members an annual fee which gives
them access to debauched parties organized by our heroes and featuring the
The lads do well. Too well. They make money hand over fist, but
complications ensue when their Cougars (predatory older women) include the
wives of their law firm's partners. Whoa! That could kill that ol'
recommendation letter, eh? Further complications arise when the police come
to believe that what they are doing is dangerously close to pimping, and
they are arrested. Of course, you know that things will eventually work out
in this kind of film.
If Sex and Death 101 shadows the best of 1980s comedies, Cougar Club
shadows the "B" youthploitation films. If it could be an "A" movie, it would
be Risky Business, but it isn't. It's more like a low-rent Golan-Globus copy
of Risky Business, filled with nobodies and has-beens and padded out with
gross-outs, gratuitous nudity and Catskills schtick comedy.
The two leads are basically unknowns, albeit likeable enough young guys.
Like the similar 80s films, Cougar Club generates a little marketing topspin
by supplementing the obscure lead players with an endless string of familiar
names in cameos and bit parts. The cast is updated a bit from the 80s, since
the old stand-bys like Charo, Joe E Ross, Phil Silvers and Foster Brooks are
no longer available, but there are plenty of replacements available. Faye
Dunaway has a small role. Carrie Fisher has a role so small it is
essentially a cameo, although she is billed quite high. Joe Mantagna plays
the "Dean Wormer" character, the senior partner. Chyna the wrestler plays
the wife of one of the partners. Norm Crosby, now elderly but once the
master of the comic malaprop, has one or two lines in an early scene.
None of the film's female leads show any flesh, but there's quite a bit
of incidental nudity which was obviously added to augment the film's
titillation value, since 95% of it occurs in tacked-on scenes which have
nothing to do with the storyline. The nudity basically comes from three
(1) A girl who has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and appears in
no other scenes comes up to our heroes at graduation and says, "You won the
bet, so I have to show you my tits."
(2) A guy who has nothing to do with the plot is being watched by the
divorce lawyers, who are employed by his wife. Our lads are charged with the
responsibility of catching and photographing him in flagrante delicto
with two topless hookers.
(3) Spence's parents some home early from a trip, arriving while he is
using the house for a Cougar Club party. (More shades of Risky Business.)
There is some very brief topless nudity from one woman being fucked against
the bay window in their den.
All three of these scenes are repeated at greater length in the closing