THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, an acid-bath of a comedy from 1998, written & directed by Don Roos. Most sources and reviews deem it a romantic comedy. Boil me in castor oil: it is to “romantic comedy” what The Inquisition was to due process. Two strong performances and some zinging malicious putdowns give it enough cred for a once-over. Lather, rinse, no repeat.
“This is how we do things on the Planet Maturia. We have much to teach you.”
Sixteen-year-old ‘Dedee Truitt’ (Christina Ricci, 17) is white-trash from Louisiana (in MovieWorld, all white trash are Southern: it’s a Commandment). Completely absent of morals, when she moves in with her older, gay half-brother ‘Bill’ (Martin Donovan), a cultivated school teacher in Indiana, she seduces his younger boyfriend, gets pregnant and starts a cruel blackmail spiral that draws in ‘Lucia’ (Lisa Kudrow), sister of Bill’s deceased partner. Secondary characters are either supportive of the frazzled Bill and flustered Lucia or complicit with the carelessly crude and casually devious Dedee.
DEDEE: “I’d like a Long Island iced tea, please.” BILL: “Is that a good idea, for the baby?” DEDEE: “Oh, please. This baby owes its life to Long Island iced teas, if you know what I mean.”
Though the script is chock-full of smart dialogue, gleefully objectionable, eventually the continual nastiness wears thin, and Kudrow’s character is the only one to raise any empathy or sympathy. Secondary players Ivan Sergei (the boyfriend Dedee ‘turns’) and Lyle Lovett (a sheriff interested in Lucia) are blandly put over. Lovett’s quirky casting was a dud mistake: stick to singing.
DEDEE: “God! How does a woman get so bitter?” LUCIA: “Observation.”
Ricci nails the slutty schemer with her usual bravado. Kudrow’s excellent handle on sad, lonely—and, yes, bitter—Lucia is the strongest element in the mix: the best developed character, getting many of the funniest lines, and delivering the most impressive acting.
Critics approved, but the $5,000,000 scald-scold wasn’t a box-office draw, grossing just $6,367,000. With William Lee Scott, Johnny Gelecki, Colin Ferguson. 105 minutes.
“Seems like everybody’s having sex but me. Good for them. It’s not that I’m against sex. I mean, it was clever of God or evolution or whatever to hook the survival of the species to it because we’re gonna screw around no what. It was a smarter thing to pick than say… the instinct to share your toys or return phone calls. We’d have died out like eons ago. But on the minus side, God… all the ‘attachment’ that goes with it. It’s like this net. Sex always ends in kids or disease, or like, you know, relationships. That’s exactly what I don’t want. I want the opposite of all that. Because it’s not worth it, not really, is it? When you think about it?”