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"Sex and Death 101" tries to be so many things at the same: a romantic
flick, a dark comedy, a mystery-drama and a highly philosophical movie
in the vein of "Matrix" (even including a white room where existential
questions are discussed). Well, as I've said in the headline, the movie
definitely does have its intriguing moments and there are quite a few
meaningful lines in the script.
However, "Sex and Death 101" is too volatile to really be successful in any of the genres it touches. The story takes a thousand twists and turns. It's too cynical to be romantic, too shallow to be profound and too erratic to blow your mind. Characters are introduced and forgotten about in 10 minute-intervals and all of the main characters' friends just kind of disappear at the end, when Winona Ryder's character finally comes into the picture. Make no mistake, Ryder doesn't play a huge role in the whole movie. Her character seems awfully constructed and forced into the script. When the whole story is finally resolved it doesn't really make sense and leaves you totally uncertain of what the hell it was you just saw.
"Sex and Death 101" isn't the worst movie you could rent, but it's certainly pretty strange. I don't even know whom to recommend this to. Fans of Winona Ryder will not be happy with the little amount of screen time she gets. Friends of romcoms will find fault with both, the amount of rom and of com in this. To enjoy "Sex and Death 101" you probably just have to accept the fact that you don't know what you're gonna get. And, hey, that's kind of what the movie is about, too, I guess.
In a world where good ol' fantasy movie making has just three letters
attached to it (you guessed it: "SFX" - a la everything from majestic
Lord of the Rings to cheesy Godzilla - jeez, even the romantic ventures
like City of Angels couldn't do away with the bag of tricks), comes a
different kind of fantasy-based movie. It's different - I'll tell ya
So what does this movie bring to us? The (blatantly visible) low budget. A cast almost riddled with relatively unknown (but promising) actors. A suite of devilishly hot women in stand-in (well, mostly "lie-down") roles. And, needless to say, a premise that is the part of every hot blooded human male's wet dreams. Are you with me yet? I promise, I'm not talking about the the 70s campy soft porn movie that you saw recently.
What would happen if a strapping young man (Simon Baker) got a magical e-mail one fine day listing all the women he had slept with and was going to ever sleep with in future? And, what if that lucky SOB actually had 101 names listed on that list? "Sex & Death 101" tries to answer. And, for most part, gets it right.
Someone once said: "Control your fate or somebody else will". And so goes the story of the young man who allows the piece of printed email to take control over his actions - which in this case means... well, he notches another one over his already very full belt. Somewhere between the disbelief over the email (despite the reassurances of the geek squad who manage the wondrous machine that sent out the hoopla causing email) and disbelief over his good fortune, our hero undergoes those human emotions that we all know very well: Guilt, Angst, Desperation. The intermix of his friends' advice and bickering adds an element of realism even in an escapist fantasy like this.
Winona Ryder plays the "death knell" sounding temptress who has been seducing perverted men to coma ridden sleep to, you know, get back at the evil men who have inflicted untold suffering on women. And you just know that Poison Ivy's parallel track story has to intersect with the story of our list-holding loverboy at some point. And it does. Therein is that taste of "stretching at the thread" that the viewer is left with. The setup seems a little bit forced. But hey, it's supposed to be escapist dark funny romcom - so what the hell, right?
The movie's premise ain't real, but the events and reactions are. Which is that unique mix of traits that makes this movie a little more than the regular spiel that Hollywood throws at us. It's definitely a good watch. And not to miss the allegoric play on the number in the title. It takes 101 women to teach the protagonist the basic meaning of sex - and death. Clever, no?
It's another example of the critics not 'getting it'. This is a
terrific movie, non-conventional, quirky, clever and funny. Go see it
and enjoy yourselves. Be prepared to have fun, but's not for the faint
Simon Baker (The Devil Wears Prada) is wonderful. He will be a big star. Winona Ryder is a surprise. She is back. It seemed as if her career was on hold, but she's great in this film.
The language is unabashedly strong, the situations ditto, but the underlying message of the film is intelligent and 'right on'.
Go see this movie.
I just saw this film at a preview. I have to say I normally don't like
romantic comedies, so I didn't have any big expectations for this.
The film is about Rodrick who receives an e-mail with all the names of girls he have had sex with, and those he will have sex with within a year. The problem is, he at that time was meant to get married in not so long, but "the list" doesn't end with his wife-2-be's name. Actually: there are 72 more to come!
I won't say the movie is free of clishè, but compared to what were used to with these kind of films- it certainly is a good breath of fresh air. The plot is funny, the characters are interesting, the actors did a good job, and well the movie was good as well. Also Winona Ryder is as beautiful as ever! Watch it, but with reasonable expectations.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With Sex and Death 101, Daniel Waters does for the romantic comedy
genre what he did for the teen genre in Heathers. A convention twisting
and near-reinvention. The film starts with a very high-concept idea,
which could have easily been used as the basis for the next Adam
Sandler production at the studios. Not that there's anything wrong with
that...actually, if it's Sandler we're talking about, there's always
plenty wrong. So let's say Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson instead. Waters
starts off the film with a fairly traditional set-up of his concept,
but then quickly takes it off on a variety of unexpected paths. The
roads less traveled. You might anticipate and I guess this qualifies
for a SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!! that the Simon Baker character falls in
love with one of the ladies on his list midway through, but what
happens to that true love is off-the-charts unpredictable. There are
lots of similar expectation-defying moments throughout, and they're
often laugh-out-loud funny.
The choice to cast Simon Baker, rather than the popular comedian of the week, was also a wise one. Baker certainly has comedic chops, but he feels considerably straighter and is more of a dramatic actor in the part than, say, Owen Wilson. Although Baker hardly looks like every man, he does add an everyman quality to the performance which grounds it and makes Baker more of a straight man to the insanity happening around him.
I've read a few reviews which criticize the film for mixing a number of tones and genre elements. It generally annoys me when critics take this easy, lazy route to slag a film, particularly one as daring as this. In this case, any mixing is clearly a stylistic/storytelling choice and not a mistake. If you want things to play out exactly as you're comfortable and familiar with in every film, just watch your favorite DVD's over and over.
My prediction is that the film will have a decent theatrical run and be HUGE in the ancillary markets. Expect this to run on cable until your hair turns gray, Office Space-style. But get out to theaters and see it if you can there. A film like this will play best with a large audience.
Conceptually, the film actually doesn't hit its point until the final twenty minutes in which Baker finally confronts Ryder and accepts his fate. The final coffee shop scene and discussion conjures memories of Daniel Waters' impeccable dialogue and pace ever-present in 1989's "Heathers". Yes, this isn't "Heathers" and thankfully, it isn't "Hudson Hawk" either, however, "Sex & Death 101", unlike both of the aforementioned films, doesn't stay with you, for better or worse. Again, the final scenes are well worth the wait and highlight exactly why Winona Ryder is everybody's favourite outsider. Her ability to present warped innocence and make it seem endearing is wonderful to watch. The moment that we see Death Nell writing in her journal (a throwback to Veronica Sawyer in Heathers) really emphasises this...Ryder's representation of the madness of youth and sex and sadness, all connected in one bizarre character. So, as a film, "Sex & Death 101" isn't great, but as an example of good screen writing and character development (in the case of Death Nell), it is interesting to experience.
"Sex and Death 101" is a dark and savvy little romantic comedy that
gleefully dances away from many of the stale and stuffy conventions
generally associated with the genre.
Simon Baker stars as the allegorically named Roderick Blank, a handsome, seemingly insatiable lady killer who's decided it's finally time to put an end to his womanizing ways in favor of marriage to the beautiful Fiona Wormwood. Yet, literally on the eve of his bachelor party, Rod receives a mysterious email listing in chronological order not only all the women he's already slept with throughout the course of his life but all the women he is destined to sleep with in the time that still remains to him (the total is 101, if you haven't already surmised that from the film's title). Adhering to the adage "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," Rod allows the list to essentially take over his life, waiting for the next promised woman to fall into his lap (sometimes quite literally), then crossing her name off the moment he's had his way with her. But is this truly the route to a satisfying life, even for a notorious playboy like Roderick Blank?
Part science fiction and part metaphysical morality play, "Sex and Death 101" also boasts two wacky subplots that run contrapuntal to the main story: one featuring Winona Ryder as an avenging feminist who comes in the guise of a serial killer, luring unsuspecting misogynists to their well-deserved destruction; and the other involving three mysterious figures (mad scientists, intervening angels?) who kidnap Rod to inform him that he has been the victim of some bizarre cosmic prank and that he needs to destroy the list before it destroys him.
"Sex and Death 101" is not a perfect film by any means. Its attempts at surrealism are frequently heavy-handed and strained, and its black-comedy edge isn't always as razor-sharp as it could be. But, on the whole, this is a wildly original and surprisingly incisive look at the different ways in which men and women view sex and romance and the different ways they use both those things to get what they want. Writer/director Daniel Waters knows how to set even the most hackneyed romantic comedy cliché spinning on its head. For instance, the movie takes the obligatory "gay best friend" stereotype - who usually comes in the form of a flaming interior decorator or wedding planner - and turns it into a wise-cracking lesbian (smartly played by Mindy Cohn, best known as Natalie from "The Facts of Life"), whose duties as Rod's personal secretary go far beyond merely scheduling his appointments or knowing where his briefcase is.
Although Rod is, in many ways, a typical character for a romantic comedy - afraid of commitment, obsessed with nailing every woman who comes his way, etc. - the route the script takes to get him to his admittedly rather predictable pro-woman/pro-romance epiphany is anything but typical. This freshness is further enhanced by the devilishly playful and utterly disarming performance turned in by Baker who completely captivates the viewer with his easygoing charisma and charm. The scene in which Baker and Ryder finally share screen time together is exceptionally well acted and staged.
Even though the movie feels a little disjointed and unfocused at times, Waters does a nice job dovetailing all the seemingly unrelated plot elements into a satisfying whole in the end. "Sex and Death 101" is for those who like a little spice with their romantic comedies.
I am probably not the first to say it, but the choice of Simon Baker
for this romantic comedy was brilliant. Left in the hands of someone
who is more familiar in rom coms would leave his movie tasting like the
typical breast and fart jokes that so many popular comedies are today.
Sure, he is shallow. After having sex with 29 women, he finds that he is to reach 101 before dies. Knowing who number 101 was caused him some concern, but fortunately he found out when he had 20 to go before her. No sex and he had 20 human shield to keep number 101 away. How is that working out?
There are some really funny moments (Patton Oswalt is a riot!), some tender moments, some interesting moments (Bambi and Thumper, Granny C), and 100 moments of romantic comedy.
Winona Ryder was amazing.
You have to see this one.
I have to start by saying who gives people the money to make this
What I thought was an interesting plot line with the mystery of a secret list of women that you have slept with and will sleep with until you die might have some potential. At the same time in another universe there is a Man Killer about killer man after sex named "Death Nell".
Nothing more to give away but for a movie with some class actor it fell short of being a good movie. It's corny a little nudity, sex with a leper, and sex with lesbians. Sounds good right ??? WRONG.
Please Simon Baker, stay on TV until a decent script comes up. I wouldn't watch it unless there is nothing better outside like a hurricane.
This movie makes very little sense. The whole thing is exceedingly
bizarre. But somehow the movie kind of works. Simon Baker turns in a
fine performance in the leading man role and it his charm which more
than anything else enables the movie to be considered at least a mild
Baker plays successful executive Roderick Blank who is about to be married. And then something strange happens. He receives an anonymous e-mail which lists, in chronological order, the names of every woman he has ever slept with. Bizarre to be sure but not a crisis as long as his wife to be is the last name on the list. She's not. She's number 29. There are 101 names on the list. Roderick initially shrugs it off as some kind of practical joke being perpetrated by his friends. Then again how would his friends know the names, in order, of every woman he's ever slept with? When Roderick accidentally (yes, accidentally) has sex with woman number 30 on the list he realizes there's something going on here. Looks like that wedding's not going to happen after all. Apparently there's a higher power at work. What is that higher power you ask? Well you see there's this computer which apparently knows everything. And it occasionally spits out random pointless information...like lists of women that men will sleep with for example. This is all explained by the three men who work with the computer in a mysterious, futuristic-looking office. These men are named Alpha, Beta and Fred. Told you this movie was bizarre.
Anyhow it's pretty apparent where the sex in the movie's title comes from. Yes a multitude of women come and go as Roderick crosses off names on his list. But what about the death part? Well that's where Winona Ryder comes in. She plays Death Nell, a shadowy figure lurking mostly in the background of the movie, who goes around seducing men and then putting them into comas. But only men who deserve it you see, sexual deviants of some kind. Death Nell becomes a feminist hero, Roderick goes on sleeping with all these different women and hey, do you think perhaps these two characters might be destined to meet? Well I certainly hope so or else this whole thing is going to be rather pointless.
For a supposed comedy this movie isn't particularly funny. No real belly laughs to be had here, maybe a mild chuckle or two. It seems that Patton Oswalt, in playing Fred, is set up to be the designated funny guy but he's really not that funny at all. There are a few good moments here and there but there are a lot of times where the movie drags and there's nothing funny or even interesting going on. The plot perks up a bit when after sleeping with all these random women Roderick actually ends up in a quasi-serious relationship with a doctor played by Leslie Bibb. But that relationship comes with complications. And we know that this woman is not the last woman on the list so inevitably it's back to the parade of women in Roderick's life. There are times where it seems the movie is close to falling apart completely but Baker, who really has to carry things pretty much by himself, manages to hold it together and in the end it's a relatively enjoyable movie. Baker is excellent, Ryder does OK with minimal screen time and there's also room for another somewhat familiar face as playing Roderick's lesbian secretary Trixie is Mindy Cohn. Yes that would be Natalie of Facts of Life fame. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have...a reasonably decent movie. That's Sex and Death 101.
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