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In Ohio, Priscilla Chase is the VP of a company that works bringing new business to Cleveland. She has been married for more than ten years with Jack Chase, the biology teacher from the local public school. Priscilla is successful in her career but is frigid and has never reached an orgasm, hurting her frustrated husband. When Priscilla decides to buy a vibrator, Jack is seduced by his teenage student Kristen Taylor and recovers his self-esteem, working out, losing weight and dressing adequately. Priscilla has new sexual experiences and becomes closer to Wayne the Pool Guy, the constructor of swimming pools in her neighborhood since she was a child. The new relationships upgrade the personal and professional lives of Priscilla and Jack. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When I first heard about this film, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. Sex and the movies have always had a bit of a rocky history, with some good results (Last Tango in Paris springs to mind) and quite a few bad ones (Anybody remember Casual Sex?). To be honest, I wasn't expecting the Oh in Ohio to be anything other than more of the same Hollywood piffle, featuring low-brow penis jokes (or, in this case I guess, vagina jokes) that predictably avoid any real thought into what fascinates us as a society about sex: The joys, the painful vulnerability, the almost magical awkwardness of it.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. The Oh in Ohio has its share of both penis and vagina jokes, but they're all offered with a refreshingly non-puerile frankness. Very rarely has a film dealt with such a touchy subject with such aplomb, all the while avoiding the pitfalls that would make a film like this preachy, or exploitive, or boring. This is a film that's not afraid to say a lot of "dirty" words and put forth a lot of ideas that may make people uncomfortable. But the nice part is, it doesn't seem to care that it's doing it. It doesn't wave sex in the audience's face, saying "look how shocking this is," it just says what it has to say and leaves the audience to laugh, or squirm, or whatever.
The performances are probably the best thing about this film. Parker Posey, who we're used to seeing as the over-the-top characters in films like Best in Show, works well as the tentative "woman on a journey of self discovery". Paul Rudd plays his character lightly and likably, avoiding a lot of the pitfalls that plague men in this kind of film. Miranda Bailey's screechy, fun loving gal pal offers some of the funnier moments in the film, and Mischa Barton is sexily unassuming in her role (which could have, in my opinion, done with a little more meat).
But it's the chemistry between Posey and Danny Devito that really gets this film going. An unlikely pairing on the surface, they really do well together, with Devito offering a performance that is somewhat low-key, but utterly charming. There's a sincerity that comes through that made me want to smile, and frankly, to see more of him on screen.
There were a few moments where the comedy falls flat (at least for me), and some wondering where the characters are going during the course of the film. The direction seemed a little detached at times, particularly when dealing with a subject as intimate as it does.
All in all, The Oh in Ohio is what it is. It's not going to change the world of cinema... but then again, maybe it could: if more films were able to be as un-self conscious this one seems to be, maybe we could all start having fun with sex again, rather than layering it in fart jokes or squirreling it away in soulless pornography.
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