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The film is entirely about sexual perversions, even though it is not
Allen has taken some of the most popular clinical
treatments of sexual fetishes and has placed them into very unusual
Gene Wilder, for example, falls in love with a sheep; Woody Allen plays a medieval court jester who gets his lance stuck in his lady's chastity belt while the king is off fighting in the Crusades; a giant breast is released upon the countryside; an Italian couple can only find happiness in public sex; and we are taken into the inner labors of a male human body as it tries to seduce a woman in a car
Each individual scene is quite well done The tales are rapid filled with irony about the overly exaggerated importance of sex in our culture
An uneven early work of Allen's, really just a series of sketches tied around the unbelievable popularity of the "sex" book "Everything You Wantedto Know About Sex, But Was Afraid To Ask" which in the early 1970's was THE book in popular culture. Many of the sketches are too long and "peter" out, but ALL of them have very funny jokes and insight, but two of the sketches are classics and are as funny as anything Allen ever wrote: Gene Wilder's bit where he plays a man who is destroyed after a certain "fetish" is introduced into his life and the last sketch, where they show the inside controls of a man's body as he gets ready to have sex with a date: Burt Reynolds and Tony Randall help run the master control room. This is brilliant and clever. Some times it's refreshing to just go back to Allen's early, silly films like Sleeper and Take The Money And Run, even though the man has gone onto important funny films with deep dramatic throughlines: Crimes & Misdemeanors, Deconstructing Harry and Husbands & Wives.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask is hysterical romp that makes the book look even more shameful. The sketches are hit and miss but the ones that hit are brilliant and will have you laughing long after the film has ended. For istance, the whole 2nd act with Gene Wilder having an afair with a sheep is one I won't soon forget. And the most creative of the skits is the last one where we see what happens to a man before I night of sex. Some skits will run on a bit long, such as the spoof of monster movies where a man and a woman and a man are being stalked by a huge tit. This skit is done well, but it really isn't that funny. Another one that falls flat is the third skit in which a man keeps trying to bring his wife to orgasm. This has a good opening but really just falls apart towards the end. All and all this is some great Woody Allen work and I certainly enjoyed it.
The different skits in this move, directed by the great Woody Allen, aren't all funny, but sometimes you have to go through stupid stuff to get to the funny material. The movie opens with a pretty funny skit, but after that, most of the other skits fall flat. Then the sketch with the mad scientist and the giant breast is pretty funny. But then... The last fifteen minutes of this movie are like a masterpiece of science fiction and comedy. The "What Happens During Ejaculation?" sketch is one of the best scenes in the history of film. The creativity, the actors, and the Woodster as the neurotic sperm, are great. The sperm acting like they're paratroopers preparing for battle is hilarious! The sets are spectacular and would set the ground work for the Woodster's next science fiction movie "Sleeper". I give the movie as a whole **1/2. The end of the film: ****!
Representing something of an early high point in Woody Allen's career,
scattershot spoof of David Rueben's highly popular sex-manual has become
somewhat sadly overlooked in favour of the more mature and whimsical
of 'Annie Hall' and 'Manhattan', but 'Everything you always wanted to know
about sex' is just as enjoyable as his later works, if not more
Although the overt intellectualism that many of Allen's detractors criticize in his subsequent work is already beginning to take form here, not only in the concept (seriously, who'd adapt a sex-manual?) but also in execution, which owes more to the high-brow Fellini and Godard than the low-brow Mel Brooks or John Waters, includes a great deal of metaphysical surrealism, bizarre camera angles and deliberately self-indulgent dialog. Here Allen's filmmaking approach is more self-serving than ever before, casting himself as a medieval stand-up comedian, a heroic leading man and a sperm, yet still finding time to feature in a lengthy satire on early-seventies European cinema. The reason it all comes together without succumbing to self-importance is down to the simplicity and stupidity of most of the set pieces.
The more interesting segments come at the beginning of the film, and if seeing Woody trying hopelessly to unlock Lynn Redgrave's chastity belt and miss-quoting Shakespeare to form a condemnation of T.B. doesn't bring a smile to your face, then the sight of Gene Wilder in the throws of foreplay with a sheep will probably do little to convert you. Humour for the most is juvenile, puerile and immature, but carried off with such hilarious comedic style, that the Farrelly brothers should really reassess their careers. Allen is as likable as ever in his many surreal incarnations -- appearing in fifty percent of the sketches -- his ultimate triumph being the oily, Italian play-boy causing a stir when he and his frigid girlfriend par-take of a little outdoor nookie. And even if he is less confident when trying to be socio-satirical, as in the molestation game show, Woody still manages to inject a wit and ingenuity to the proceedings, always carrying off the gags to his trademark self-deprecating style.
However, despite technical assuredness, the finished product borders on the same hit and miss territory that befalls most anthology films, however, it has to be handed to Allen for making a genuinely intelligent movie that basically celebrates boob-gags and outbursts of rampant misogyny. The best policy with 'Everything you always wanted to know...' is to ignore the false starts of the later segments, and howl at the sight of Woody fighting a giant breast ("Don't worry, I know how to handle tits"). Nevertheless, if your idea of sophisticated humour doesn't include bestiality, orgasms, transvestism, homosexuality, ejaculation, perversion or Burt Reynolds, then feel free to give it a miss.
Ever since the mid-70s, I have had a nostalgia for Woody Allen's early
films. Everyone needs to grow, it's just that I think Woody has grown in the
wrong direction. In the films that followed "Annie Hall" he seemed to be
trying to be Bergman at times and Fellini at others, when I always thought
he was better just being Woody. Why? Because he was funny, and this film
is the funniest of them all.
This is Woody at his zaniest, his most anarchic, his most irreverent, his wildest. It is zany in the same sense that the Marx Brothers were at their height. He isn't afraid to have segments that are just plain crazy and unbelievable. I wonder if David Reuben realized that Woody was actually mocking his book when he sold the rights. A classic. 8/10
Everything You Always Wanted to Know... is frequently looked down upon as
fulfils its promise completely. That is, it contains a lot of
To downplay the film on such a level is to do it a disservice: what may be overlooked is that, apart from the subject matter and the brevity with which such a topic is treated, this is shot extremely well.
A notable example of this is Allen's technique of having actors speaking with their backs to the camera. A very European style of filming, and one which, understandably, is most brought into play during the third vignette, a pitch-perfect satire of continental cinema. Also look out for the grand-scale surrealism that occupies the last two sequences: a 400-foot breast rolling down a well-shot hillside or a giant tongue may seem crude in context, but looked at solely for cinematic technique this is pure Fellini. This may seem to be overstating it, but never has a bawdy, slightly crass, comedy vehicle been so well conceived for the big screen. Even the opening sequence involving a multitude of white rabbits is shot with the screen in mind, a twitching nose and red eye the only objects punctuating an effective white counterpoint for the introductory credits.
And so to the content itself, which doesn't match the quality of the production and sags in the middle. The first three sketches are quite wonderful, the third, as mentioned, is exquisite, and the scenes with Gene Wilder romancing a sheep may not be as sophisticated, but are probably the funniest. The first sketch sees Woody as a medieval jester paraphrasing Shakespeare, though the gags really don't get any better (or more tasteful) than "T.B. or not T.B., that is the congestion". For this is a film that has no limits, and its content flirts with notions of bestiality, transvestism, the female orgasm, ejaculation and sex in public places. Not all of these are carried off particularly well, the transvestite sketch falling resolutely flat. There is also evidence of Woody's homophobia, casting himself as a sperm dreading being ejected during a "homosexual encounter". In fact, an eighth sketch was filmed, which suggested homosexuality arises as a direct consequence of fear of women. This was cut not on bounds of taste but due to the fact that Woody couldn't think of a good enough punchline.
Worst point of the film though, has to be the "What's My Perversion?" segment. While extremely satirical, this one leaves an extremely bad taste in the mouth as Woody seems to be going full-out to offend with this piece. While the basic idea could cause some amusement, seeing a panellist quizzing a contestant as to whether he's a rapist or a child molester is several stages beyond funny. Simarily, the sketch ends with a Rabbi's wife on her knees eating pork. An unnecessary addition to the film.
However, it is of importance in terms of Woody's screen "character". The rough edges, arrogance and pseudo-intellectualism of his mid-seventies work onwards has yet to emerge, and here we still have Woody very much as he was in "Casino Royale" - ie., a bit of a nerd and on the losing end of life. Amazing to think that in just two years time he was writing himself as a lothario who was exceptionally good in bed.
In conclusion, then, a worthwhile view if you're a student of film or a fan of Woody's, but if you're watching this one for the comedy then it's purely hit-and-miss.
'Everything You Always To Know About Sex' is probably the last time
Woody Allen really fooled about and made an ass of himself with minimal
artistic pretenses, and given the mediocre quality of recent disposable
duds like 'Melinda & Melinda' and 'Anything Else', it's quite
refreshing. True, this 1972 collection of extremely lewd skits isn't
quite as impressive and thought-provoking as some of Allen's best
works, like 'Annie Hall', 'Manhattan' or for that matter even the
follow-up 'Sleeper'; yet there's an energy to 'Everything You Always
Wanted To Know' that Allen has not shown for at least a decade, and in
that light it's still entirely classic.
If anything, the film is closest in its spirit to early Allen films like 'Bananas' and 'Sleeper', but it actually feels more like a British comedy, and is clearly influenced by shows like 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' and 'The Benny Hill Show', in it's chaotic and rude humor. Still, Allen's mark is all over the skits, even when he isn't in them. One of the best of the bunch, in fact, is the skit titled 'What Is Sodomy', which stars Gene Wilder. Influences of both Monty Python and Mel Brooks can be felt in it, but it's entirely Allen; and still, it's Wilder that makes it perfect. Even more Pythonish is the fabricated game-show 'What's Your Perversion'.
The best and most memorable is the last skit, entitled 'What Happens During Ejaculation', in which Allen does a wonderful portrayal of a sperm, and we catch a glimpse of the action in the control room of a man's body during sexual intercourse. The skit is brilliantly satirical and ranks with Allen's best moments, nearly overshadowing the rest of the film. Still, it's not without it's unforgettable moments; other than Wilder, also worthy of special praise is John Carradine who is wonderful as the ultimate parody of a mad scientist, and let's not forget Woody Allen as a fool in the Middle Ages misquoting Hamlet and getting his hand stuck up the Queen's chastity belt, and his wonderful performance as an Italian Casanova.
So no, it's not quite one of Allen's best films, but it's close. The humor is dirty, yes, but not childish; Allen's intelligence is there, but it's much lighter than 'Annie Hall' or other classics, and like a Monty Python or a Mel Brooks it bears multiple viewings. A movie that's funny as hell, essential for Allen fans, and recommended for all.
`Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex' is a landmark, and of
course a great exercise in comedy. Dividing the movie in 7 different
segments (with some not including himself in the leading role) was the best
Woody Allen could do, and this movie works better than his previous attempt
(Bananas) and his posterior `Sleeper'.
In a way, it's less ambitious and targets all audiences. All short films are hilarious, in a crescent order. My favorite is the last, which satirizes the humanly body functions during intercourse. A must see, for all generations of movie likers. Rate: 5/5
The multiple skits which make up this film vary in their level of humor and cleverness; however, almost all of them are at least very funny, and some are downright hilarious. While this may not be Allen's most philosophical or deep comedy, it certainly qualifies as, at least, a near-classic.
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