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1 item from 1999

Film review: 'Sex Monster'

8 March 1999 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

There's lots of sex in this low-budget comedy, but it's monstrously unfunny if one isn't in the ranks of horny, bored male yuppies that represent its de facto audience.

A one-joke movie stroked into a veritable marathon of screwing and wooden farce, writer-director-lead actor Mike Binder's "Sex Monster" is more big tease than anything-goes sleaze, reflecting the always nagging guilty consciousness of the leads.

A world premiere blind date at the U.S. Comedy Arts Film Festival in Aspen, Colo., "Sex" won't be shagging many paying customers beyond a limited domestic release and unarousing exposure in post-theatrical markets.

Mariel Hemingway and Stephen Baldwin in the cast, heaps of gags about lesbianism and bisexuality, even the "Sex Monster Dancers" -- a half-dozen young gals bumping and grinding to Joe Cocker's "Woman to Woman" over the opening and closing credits -- all fail to lure one into Binder's smutty scenario.

While the direction could have been perkier, the real mood-killers are the screenplay and two-dimensional characterizations.

A successful housing contractor in L.A., Marty Barnes (Binder) is happily married but obsessed with the idea of talking his wife, winsome hairdresser Laura (Hemingway), into a threesome with another woman.

She at first reacts with mild umbrage but grows more used to the idea. He struggles to make it all sound healthy and natural, finally hitting on the concept of "home court advantage" -- i.e., a woman knows best how to make love to another woman.

Binder tries to flesh out the characters in the subsequent awkward scenes of Laura and Marty's mutual experimentation, but there are no serious obstacles to their dalliances with more than one new playmate, starting with her sweet, flirtatious co-worker Didi (Renee Humphrey). The big chuckle is that Laura becomes enthusiastically bisexual, with Marty quickly growing jealous of her all-night sessions that continue after he's withdrawn from action.

The other central conceit is that many a woman longs to be, has been, or will be a lesbian. Once Laura gets started, she aggressively pursues Marty's engaged assistant (Missy Crider) and succeeds. Even Marty's sister is not safe around his voracious wife, while he periodically endures detection and treatment of a polyp on his colon from bored Dr. Berman (Kevin Pollak).

Baldwin and Taylor Nichols are refreshing diversions as Marty's bar pals, with the latter playing a larger role when his wife is drawn toward Laura. Christopher Lawford is suitably smug and judgmental as a conservative business partner whose trophy wife (Joanna Heimbold) has a wicked streak. The sweaty climax involves a business deal that Marty and Laura flub while their marriage and dignity survive.


Molly-B Prods.

Writer-director: Mike Binder

Producers: Jack Binder, Scott Stephens

Executive producers: Peter Savarino, Jim Harbaugh, Marc Frydman



Laura: Mariel Hemingway

Marty: Mike Binder

Didi: Renee Humphrey

Billy: Taylor Nichols

Diva: Missy Crider

Dave: Christopher Lawford

Evie: Joanna Heimbold

Dr. Berman: Kevin Pollak

Murphy: Stephen Baldwin

Running time -- 97 minutes

No MPAA rating


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1 item from 1999

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