Kinsey (2004) Poster

(2004)

User Reviews

Review this title
174 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex and, oh yeah, sex....
majikstl3 December 2004
"We've got a couple of hours before dinner; time for a couple of sex surveys. Who wants to go first?"

This line from KINSEY is a great representation of the movie. It illustrates the film's offhanded sense of humor and shows that the otherwise taboo topic of sex is tossed about in a way that can be seen as being either casually shocking or mundanely trivial. And, logically enough, numerous scenes do happen at the dining table: sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, as played by Liam Neeson, chatters about sexual statistics over family backyard cookouts with his teenaged children, regales guests with graphic details of sexual minutiae at elegant affairs and ultimately ends up becoming a crashing bore at dinner parties as his compulsion to ramble on about all things sexual dominates his every conversation and waking thought.

What begins as a healthy interest and a professional curiosity becomes a tiresome obsession. In a way, Kinsey becomes a sex addict, but in a scholarly, detached sort of way. He's like a sports nut who's neither a player nor a spectator, but loves to collect the memorabilia and obsessively keep track of trivial statistics. He measures his sexual conquests less by the number of his bed partners than by how many people he seduces into answering his probing sex surveys. Research itself becomes a sexual fetish.

A disturbing, or at least revealing, aspect of the film is the implication that Kinsey seemed to blur the line separating the personal and professional in his pursuit of carnal knowledge. There is a scene where Kinsey and his assistant Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard) go to a gay bar to round up people to interview and various men treat his request to answer questions as a joke, assuming that the survey is really a cheesy come on. And they might not be entirely wrong. Watching the film, one gets the feeling that Kinsey had a substantial sexual appetite, both physically and intellectually. The film suggests more than it reveals, but it hints that the lingering concerns over Kinsey's moral and ethical behavior might reflect more than just a germ of suspicion.

Though the film tries to memorialize Kinsey as a social pioneer, it doesn't shy away from (nor does it condemn) his dubious breaches of ethical standards, such as encouraging intramural sexual activities among his staff and their wives. At one point, Kinsey interviews a creepy subject played by William Sadler who has maintained a detailed record of all of the thousands of people he has had sex with (including children) and the implication is clear that he and Kinsey are two sides of the same coin -- both justifying their amoral pursuits in the name of intellectual enrichment.

Throughout the movie all things sexual are treated comically and seriously, trivially and ponderously, casually and obsessively. But only fleetingly is sex treated erotically. The film is graphic about sex, but in a textbook sort of way, not a pornographic way. Even the few sexual scenes involving Kinsey and his wife (Laura Linney) seem designed to illustrate an academic point, coming off as being more like classroom visual aids rather than moments of passion. The film delves into the good doctor's bisexuality, but gingerly treats it with equal reticence. Indeed, though a bit of full frontal nudity is supplied by Sarsgaard, he ends up putting his pajamas on before sharing an intimate kiss with Neeson. Perhaps the film's only moment of real sexual tension comes from two Boy Scouts discussing the sins of self gratification. (And they end up praying!)

The film is mostly all X-rated talk, with only a bit of PG-13 action. And the talk isn't even all that graphic, it just seems that way compared to the traditional -- skittish -- way films always approach the subject. If the film has any point it is that even though we have come a long way in dealing with sexuality, we still haven't gone all that far: political correctness having joined religious piety as a form of censorship. Kinsey worked to bring the most private of all human endeavors into public discourse, not realizing, or caring, that most people would still rather have it continue being -- literally -- private intercourse. As such, KINSEY still carries a certain shock value and the ability to milk much of its humor from its often embarrassingly blunt approach.

And humor may be the film's saving grace. Though, towards the end, the story takes on the usual air of self-importance that plagues most film biographies, writer-director Bill Condon refuses to let the film become too heavy-handed. Some of the humor is a bit obvious, such as picking John Lithgow to play Kinsey's pompous father, a fundamentalist preacher, in a performance that echoes the actor's similar role in FOOTLOOSE. But, for the most part the humor humanize the characters and doesn't present them as crusading icons or symbols of enlightenment. Like most film biographies, the honesty of KINSEY as history is debatable, as are the doctor's contribution to the health and welfare of the society. But as a film, KINSEY is like good sex, a briefly satisfying mix of passion and amusement.
183 out of 242 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Finally, someone did TALK about it!
SomeBlueDevil1 December 2004
I read some of the reviews on IMDb before I went to see the movie. And I was struck by some of the negative comments it received. Even in this day and age, there is a double-standard on "moral values".

Hypocrisy vs. common sense. The movie cleverly reveals that Kinsey helped us along the way, to become open about such a basic but non-the-less extremely vital part of our existence. True, some of his subjects were pedophiles or engaged in sex practices that most people would find offensive. However, the knowledge that he as a scientist derived from his studies, is immeasurable - it enables intimate insight into the human psyche, and with that, possible treatments for those that are sexually victimizing others.

And this is the key point: the law should protect life, the innocent (under-aged and animals) and of course, the non-consenting. Other than that, sex is something between consenting adults and no-one should have the right to outlaw what you do in the bedroom. If you listen closely, the movie will give you the same message.

My only complaint is perhaps that on the subject of "perversion" they barely scratched the surface on Kinsey's personal response. It was clear that as a scientist, he would continue on the path of knowledge, however dark it may have been. I would probably agree that the movie version of his life and work was toned down to a "pill small enough to swallow" - still, I feel it shows the audience enough to get a picture of who this man was.

Don't expect "adult entertainment" when going to this movie. There is little that will cause an open-minded, sexually in touch with him-/herself adult embarrassment or even excitement. It's more like a documentary.

The acting was superb on everybody's part, and Academy Award Nominations will be forth-coming - no doubt. Hopefully they will take some wins home.
146 out of 192 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Kinsey enlightens a controversial subject
seaview128 November 2004
Writer/Director Bill Condon does a thoroughly detailed, fascinating study of the life of famed sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in the drama, Kinsey. What would on surface seem unfilmable is done with great sensitivity and honesty.

Condon knows how to tell stories about real people (Gods and Monsters), and here is a life filled with curiosity and far reaching accomplishment.

Raised in a repressed family dominated by a stern father, Kinsey is portrayed as an isolated teen who rebels against not only his father, but against sexual convention. As a science instructor in college, he meets a student who becomes his wife. As other students look more and more to him for sexual advice, his original interest in insect studies changes to sex adviser and ultimately sex researcher. His team of assistants and even their wives become involved in the research. As Kinsey's study requires sample interviews across the country, a diverse, amazing discovery of sexual habits and statistics are revealed. The study ultimately becomes published in a groundbreaking best seller amid a swell of damnation from the public.

Condon interweaves the science with the human element in a very intelligent screenplay. It is remarkable that such a coherent storyline emerges from a multitude of scientific and news sources. The movie also says a lot about the state of the country at a time in mid twentieth century America when the Red Scare was in full swing and the populace was guided by the morals and sensibilities of its time. Kinsey's relationship with his wife is the thread that ties the film together thematically. She essentially becomes the barometer for his work and his shortcomings. Here is a man who was brilliant and at the same time fallible.

There is no epilogue at film's end as might be expected for a biography, but it is a nice touch for a film that tries to approach its subject with freshness and reverence. The set design and costumes are all authentic in period flavor, but the film seems to be focused not on marking the precise year but depicting an era or time. Do stay for the amusing end credits which show a veritable Noah's Ark of animals in their glory.

Liam Neeson is very good as the obsessed scientist who tries to conduct meaningful, quantifiable research while reconciling the emotional toll on his marriage and his friendships. Laura Linney is in fine form as the supportive wife who observes and then participates in her husband's venture.

As his research assistants, Timothy Hutton, Chris O'Donnell, and Peter Sarsgaard round out a very strong ensemble cast. In fact, these fine actors are almost wasted in supporting roles. John Lithgow is pitch perfect as Kinsey's cruel, insensitive father. There is a nice, near cameo appearance by Lynn Redgrave (Gods and Monsters) as the last interview of Kinsey, and she resonates in her brief appearance.

In keeping with the subject matter, there is graphic dialogue and sexual depictions, but there is nothing exploitive or without narrative purpose here. It is interesting to note that this film is coming on the heels of a moralistic backlash of media content and permissiveness. By showing how well-intended human studies into formerly taboo subjects helped to enlighten and reexamine human behavior, Kinsey proves to be the right film for the right time.
105 out of 137 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Before Dr. Ruth and the others, there was Dr. Kinsey...
jotix10028 November 2004
Bill Condon, working with his own material has come out with a movie that serves to illustrate how the work of Dr. Kinsey awoke the American public to a better understanding of their sexuality in ways no one, up to that point, had ever dared to show. As he proved with his other film, "Gods and Monsters", Mr. Condon shows he doesn't mind tackling adult themes, so scarce in the present cinema.

The film is documentary in style, as we are shown the life of Kinsey at different times of his life. He had an unhappy childhood. His father was a tyrant who never really showed love toward him. There are moments when the young Kinsey is shown as boy scout and there is an element of homosexuality that maybe, for fear, never came to the surface, but it's there, nonetheless.

Dr. Kinsey's life takes a turn when he meets, Clara McMillen, who he calls "Mac". It's with her that he begins a life of discovery in the field of human sexuality that was taboo in American colleges and universities at the time. Albert Kinsey was the first one that spoke about the things that were never said in polite company, or in the classroom, up to that moment. His life was dedicated to understand what made human beings act the way they did, never being judgmental, but with a tremendous insight to interpret the data and present it in a comprehensible way.

A puritanical American society reacted strongly against the findings of Dr. Kinsey. He was a man ahead of his times when he decided to gather information about the sex lives of Americans and to publish the results in a best selling book.

As Dr. Kinsey, Liam Neeson, showing an uncanny resemblance to the man, himself, does a wonderful job. He shows a complicated character who was not easily understood by his associates and students. As "Mac", his wife, Laura Linney with a dark wig, gives an articulate performance of Mrs. Kinsey. Both actors are wonderful together, as they have already shown in the New York stage.

Peter Sargaard, as Clyde, Dr. Kinsey's first assistant, shows he is an actor that will amaze from picture to picture. This actor has the ability to get under each of his character's skins to make them real, as is the case with his Clyde. Also, almost unrecognizable, Chris O'Donnell, who plays Wardell, one of the interviewers working with the doctor. Timothy Hutton is Gebhard, the other associate who was instrumental in gathering the information to help complete Dr. Kinsey's report. John Lithgow, as Kinsey Sr. has a fantastic moment with Mr. Neeson, as he agrees to be interviewed, revealing a horrible secret. It's a wonderful moment done with panache by both actors working under exceptional direction.

There is a moment toward the end of the film where we see Lynn Redgrave speaking directly to the camera. It is one of the most effective moments in the film when this woman tells Dr. Kinsey about her life as a lesbian.

Mr. Condon's film clarifies a lot about the genius of Kinsey and his contribution to society.
107 out of 140 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Condon's Mastery Depicting Kinsey's Sexology & Sexualities
semioticz19 October 2007
One of the mid-20th century sexologists, Alfred C. Kinsey, is brought to life through a stellar performance by Liam Neeson. Screenplay writer & director, Bill Condon, who should have won an Oscar for "Gods and Monsters," uses an enticing technique of switching between B&W scenes & color ones. In the former, Kinsey is depicted as a subject, in a clinical setting, responding to his own sex survey questions. In the latter, Condon takes us through flashbacks of choice intimate events during Kinsey's younger life. This combination of screenplay & direction movement between the past in color & the present in B&W seems contradictory. However, it is quite effective to draw out the importance of how significant, if not 'colorful', Kinsey's upbringing was while living in his father-preacher's (John Lithgow) anti-sexual & puritanical home.

Kinsey's sexology includes so many open-ended questions that they leave room for respondents to elaborate upon their true sexual experiences. Their thousands of responses included in Kinsey's research {published as "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) & "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953)} are anything but black & white! It is to Kinsey's credit, his passion, the effectiveness of his research techniques, that sexology discovered US respondents were eager to speak about sex. Since Kinsey's findings are not what the US public expected to learn, his research became controversial. For instance, the first book found males had many more same-gender sexual experiences than anyone imagined. The second book really rocked the world when Kinsey's research showed that females shared the same sexual desires as males! From the start of the film to the end it is loaded with sexological words: in other words, the clinical names for genital body parts & sexual activities. Sexual activities are spoken of scientifically & sometimes depicted. This is not by any means a pornographic motion picture. It is about the science of sexology. But, most especially, it is a fine film that aptly portrays both the research & intimate passions of the world famous US sexologist, Kinsey.

It's not necessarily an adults-only film; depending upon how well prepared & educated teens are in studies of human sexual behavior. I feel Condon masters the topics of sexology & sexualities.
39 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A Politically Pointed Re-Creation of a Past that Could Be Prologue
noralee3 December 2004
Just as the focus of "Kinsey" thought he was being objective about a topic that had only been treated subjectively, the film is not an objective bio-pic.

For the first half of the movie, the exquisite production design, costumes and make-up effectively recreate middle America before World War II, as Kinsey's rigid upbringing and equally rigid scientific life as a zoologist are established.

Laura Linney as first his student then his wife adds an earthy and warm element and her excellent acting adds womanliness beyond the script to the movie that is missing otherwise. Their gradual move into teaching and studying sexuality is shown convincingly in contrast to the prigs around them, with, ironically surely, Tim Curry playing his puritanical academic rival.

Accurate details include showing and reading from a popular marriage manual, Theodoor H. van de Velde's "Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique;" when I ran a used book sale at my local synagogue we would get many unread copies donated from now elderly couples who had received it as part of pre-marital rabbinical counseling and it was hilarious how sexist and inaccurate it was.

But writer/director Bill Condon takes considerable interpretive leaps as he moves on to "the inner circle," as T. Coraghessan Boyle terms it in his fictionalized interpretation, when Kinsey hires, trains, works and lives closely with male assistants for his first research project on men.

Peter Sarsgaard is the stand out in the trio, as outstanding as his role in "Shattered Glass" and as all holds barred as in "The Center of the World." But his characterization leans toward a cavalier attitude towards women that is emblematic of this film until literally the last minute. I don't see why his character would be jealous to the point of fisticuffs of the attentions Timothy Hutton's flirtatious assistant would be paying to his wife when he seemed to condescend to marriage only for appearance's sake anyway.

The film dwells on gay men and skips through the research done to produce the second tome on women, pointing out mostly Kinsey's corrective biological information, therefore gliding over how it was the revelations about women that shocked the nation and led to difficult political and other consequences, though Margaret Sanger and Emma Goldman had promulgated similar information about women decades earlier (and had been hounded out of the country for their efforts). The Kinsey Institute's FAQ on their Web site point out the active partnership of female research assistants for this work, who simply don't exist in the film. (And the Congressional investigations of foundations in the 1950's didn't just focus on the Rockefeller Foundation's funding of Kinsey, but they haven't yet posted their correctives on their Web site.)

Similarly, as Kinsey is shown taking the leap from taxonomy to adviser as an avatar of the coming sexual revolution, the psychological component of relationships, let alone sex, only comes up once such that Liam Neeson's characterization ultimately seems naive. But Condon is more interested in the political component, as he clearly sees a similar tide of conservative criticism rising across the land again.

One also gets the feeling that someone either read the script or saw a working print of the film and had to gently point out to Condon that women simply get short shrift, so suddenly an extremely poignant coda is added, with Lynn Redgrave as a very moving interviewee on how Kinsey's work affected her life directly.

The aging make-up and cinematography are beautiful in indicating the passage of time, matching seasonal passings and making early discussions seem to have been documented in black and white.

The casting of the many research subjects is wonderfully varied and the New York metropolitan area locations, recognizable only to the cognoscenti, stand in very well for varied cities, academic and sylvan locales.

The closing credits are surrounded by fun period songs and zoological interactions.
68 out of 103 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
My brief review of the film
sol-4 January 2005
A rather well researched, interesting and involving biography of an important man to science, the film not only provides an insight into Kinsey's life and the attitudes of the time, but it also digs deep into the characters. Superb acting assists too, with Neeson and Sarsgaard both in good form, however it is Linney who shines the most as Kinsey's wife. But what gives the film such an extra boost is how confronting it manages to be. It is a daringly different film, packing the punches and managing to even have a few good laughs. The style feels unique, yet the technical aspects of the film are rather ordinary. It is a bit too uncomfortable to watch at times also, but it generally succeeds. Condon has quite evidently put a lot of effort into writing and directing the film, and without much question, his efforts have paid off with success.
52 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
The next best thing to talking about sex with body language
BrandtSponseller13 June 2005
Back from a much-too-long hiatus after 1998's masterful character study of James Whale, Gods and Monsters, writer/director Bill Condon gives us a slightly more conventional biopic of important and (sadly) controversial scientist Alfred Kinsey. I say "sadly" controversial because I despise puritanical attitudes about sex in modern cultures much more than Kinsey is shown to in this film. Compared to my views on ethics in general and sex in particular, Kinsey could have been a poster boy for the Moral Majority.

Kinsey is portrayed by Liam Neeson, who turns in one of the best performances of his career. Condon starts the film with a clever, exquisitely realized montage that alternates Kinsey training his team of assistants at the beginning of his sex research days in the late 1940s with flashbacks of Kinsey's childhood up until the time when he was a young adult. The scenes of Kinsey training his research assistants are in black and white and have a slight look of 1950s science documentaries (without the scratchiness and bad splices that some of us can remember from watching old "filmstrips" at school). The flashback scenes are presented in lush color with mostly subtle and gorgeous cinematography. A shot of a young Kinsey looking through a spyglass, framed against a cloudy sky, is just one of many examples of cinematographer Frederick Elmes' strikingly poetic work. This is all set on a bed of typically stunning, pensive music from Carter Burwell.

The sequence is designed to emphasize some of the background and motivations (at least from the "nurture" side) that eventually fueled Kinsey's infamous work. His father, portrayed by John Lithgow, who unfortunately can't be in the film more (it must be a relatively minor part of the film, as Condon has made it), is shown as a religiously staunch moralist espousing antiquated, often superstitious views on sexuality, and preaching of the evils of sexual expression in society. We see from the start that Kinsey has a voracious scientific curiosity and a love of nature. The combination of interests and influences leads him to drop out of the tech school at which his father is a respected teacher and study biology at a university instead.

We enter the beginning of Kinsey's professional career, which he dedicates to studying the gall wasp. He goes to unusual lengths to collect a huge number of specimens in an attempt to attain a kind of "ultimate, objective empiricism". At the same time he meets and falls in love with Clara McMillen (Laura Linney), who becomes his wife. Both Kinsey and McMillen are woefully uneducated and inexperienced when it comes to getting physical, as they disturbingly learn on their honeymoon; it even causes enough problems to lead them to a physician not long afterward. We also see a couple other events emphasizing a general paucity of accurate sex education/information in the culture.

It takes awhile to get through all of the above, and some viewers might feel a twinge of impatience ("when are we going to get to the sex stuff?"--a cry also frequently heard whenever there is mixed company), but Condon, through selective biography, has tied all of Kinsey's background together, with no superfluous details, in what functionally becomes a clever argument suggesting that the only thing that Kinsey could have done in his later years was to study sex in the way that he did.

Condon and Neeson easily paint a complex picture of Kinsey as a sex researcher. Kinsey seems to have an innocent naivety, a scientific thoroughness and "objectiveness" and a worldly, libertine disposition on ethics all at the same time. These all catalyze what eventually became controversial work--and it was often controversial in the eyes of others in each of those modes due to the existence of the other modes in Kinsey. In my view, this is maybe most interesting from the scientific mode--Condon's film goes far in showing that personality and individualistic quirks inevitably have an effect on science, despite the popular mythology about that field, which has it as more of a dispassionate, even robotic endeavor. Of course, reactionary fervor from various morally conservative groups and those who wanted to keep various morally conservative groups in their good graces was the eventual undoing of Kinsey, and Condon shows this in the film while amazingly managing to not seem overly polemical.

Of course, Kinsey is a character-driven film that largely stands or falls due to its performances. Besides Neeson and Lithgow, the other principals--primarily Linney and Peter Sarsgaard, as Kinsey employee and intimate Clyde Martin--are excellent in demanding roles.

But Kinsey also has a surprising amount of unusual and exemplary technical aspects. The interesting cinematography continues throughout. A long sequence of Kinney traveling across the country and interviewing all different kinds of people is refreshingly different and effective, especially as floating heads recede in the frame like passing highway dividing lines before quickly morphing into each other.

The make-up, which has to age the principals 30 years or so, is masterfully done--at beginning of the film, you'll find yourself saying, "Geez, Liam Neeson, John Lithgow et al look young for their age", and at the end, "Geez, they look old for their age". In both parts of the film, the cast looks like they "really" must look just as they do at that moment.

If I had to pick on something as less than satisfactory, it would be a backhanded criticism--Carter Burwell's music seems a bit underused throughout the middle section of the film. When that's the extent of the negative criticism, it means you need to see the film. Moreover, it's important socially for everyone to see this film now. For whatever reason, Puritanism keeps rearing its evil little head in modern cultures. Kinsey can help remind us of more rational (not to mention healthy, satisfying, fun, etc.) perspectives.
51 out of 84 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Excellent Job --- thoughtful, engrossing, special
felixoscar12 November 2004
Having recently read, and thoroughly enjoyed, T.C. Boyle's fictionalized take on Kinsey, "The Inner Circle" (2004), I was eager to see how this version materialized. Well Bravo! Bill Condon has created another winning script, and found another lead actor to mesmerize the audience (as in Gods & Monsters). Liam Neeson brings to life this crusader, a man who surely revolutionized America ... and had his own special personal battles as well.

Evocative, enjoyable, credible. Laura Linney is excellent, as well, plus rising star Peter Sargaard is super. Hats off the the splendid cast. One criticism --- did not get to know most of the secondary characters well enough, this is a film where another half hour would have been welcome. But, hey, two memorable hours worth!
49 out of 85 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
This Movie Barely Knows Kinsey
RoboSlater20 November 2004
Kinsey, who died in 1956, is author of "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" (1948). The film treats him heroically.

It shouldn't.

It ignores his pedophilia or Table 34 of his book which describes the orgasms of children. It ignores how he employed pedophiles to molest these children and record their screams and convulsions in soundproof rooms. It ignores his sadomasochism, his genital self-mutilations (which led to his death) and steers away from his pioneering work for NAMBLA. He considered Judeo-Christianity the enemy of freedom. He sought to invest sexual relations between humans and animals with a certain dignity suggesting they could achieve "a psychology intensity comparable to that in exclusive human sexual relations." (Dr. Judith Reisman, "Kinsey, Sex and Fraud" p.7).

Kinsey is reported to have favored sex with children at any age, having concluded children are sexual "from birth."

As a researcher, his methodology stank.

In short, Kinsey justified every type of sexual behavior, including bestiality and a total rejection of Judeo-Christian morality.

The whitewashing of this despicable guy makes any other comment on the film absent of integrity. I was surprised Liam Neeson took the lead role in light of a script that revises historical fact. I guess I expected better of him as a person if not an actor. As an actor, he could have demanded more truth.

The acting is so-so, the script is so-so. It's the fact it has sexual content that will raise voting scores to exaggeratedly high levels here.

All of which means it's another likely Oscar contender from the Left.

These kinds of films often get high marks from reviewers who don't want to look prudish by dinging them.
42 out of 87 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Kinsey, the movie, is a SEX CRIME!
rudyarde20 January 2005
This movie was intended, in its pathetic, small-minded fashion, to make me sympathetic towards Kinsey. It completely failed. The line attributed to Kinsey in the movie regarding (to paraphrase) "Most people in prison for sex crimes should not be there" sums up the pervasive, debauched content in a nutshell. The fact that this movie received a 7.7 only confirms my belief that the majority of people in Western society are so debauched and poorly educated that they will swallow any crap that is dished up for them in a sugar cone. Many of the situations in this movie were remarkably inane - such as Kinsey interviewing his Father at his Mother's funeral regarding his masturbation history. Please. My wife and I walked out. No wonder the western world is so universally hated by less "civilized" nations that haven't yet had their soul and spirit taken over by our raw materialism and lack of respect for the sacred.
41 out of 87 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Enjoy the performances of Liam Neeson and Laura Linney
NoArrow26 December 2004
Liam Neeson is a terrific actor, and Dr. Alfred Kinsey is his character. After seeing "Kinsey" I can't imagine anyone else better for the role. People usually say that, I know, but you couldn't possibly imagine anyone else playing the part, ever. I think Neeson has a strong chance at winning an Oscar this year; as does Laura Linney, playing Kinsey's wife, a terrifically kind, warm woman trying to keep up with Kinsey's life, which moves along pretty fast. Too fast for her at times. These two performances are awesome, two of the actors' best, the Academy, and every other awards show, would have to be insane not to mention them.

Unfortunately, I don't think the rest of the movie is really up to par with the performances. Not to say it's bad, just that it fails to really interest us when Neeson or Linney aren't on screen (which, fortunately, doesn't happen much). The movie is about Alfred Kinsey, who pioneered the research on human sexuality. Neeson shows him as a strong man, but one with as many flaws as the gall wasps he collected, all buried deep beneath his drive and focus.

Kinsey's studies proved some things, and let a lot of homosexuality and other deviances from the norm at the time out into the open. I'd just like to say that I agree with some of his studies, I like that he unlocked the way uptight supposed "morality" of the masses think that any sexual behavior other than the missionary position is both unhealthy and immoral. How they thought that I don't know, but I admire Kinsey for proving them wrong. Other things I do not agree with, like Kinsey's studies on the time it takes really young children to reach orgasm…and Kinsey's way of thinking that sex on its basic level should have no emotional attachment; I think I can say that these things are ethically wrong without feeling ignorant.

But I won't be biased against the quality of the film because of this. I will speak of the technique of how it was made: the writing, the directing, etc. I liked how the movie began: with a black and white practice interview between Kinsey, his wife Clara, and their students. It is inter-cut with scenes from Kinsey's youth: Kinsey facing temptation with masturbation, and having trouble with his insanely strict father (John Lithgow).

Lithgow's first scene, where he speaks of the temptation and evil caused by zippers, electricity and ice cream parlors is the film's first problem. It doesn't show both sides of Kinsey's argument, it merely dismisses Lithgow – and those like him – as a laughing stock, instead of considering any validity in points that they're making.

This problem is carried throughout the movie, and Lithgow is seen as such a monster that we feel no sympathy for his character in a later scene showing his inner weakness and tragic past, the scene feels thrown in and very foreign to the rest of the movie.

I think the opening scenes, with Kinsey and Clara first falling for each other, and his proposal and collection of gall wasps, are the movie's best, I believe. Once Kinsey starts his research on sex I think the movie becomes a bit conventional. We get the usual scenes such as Kinsey alienated from his family, Kinsey receiving trouble from his financial backers, Clara feeling alienated from Kinsey, and so on. Of course, most of the time we watch eagerly, because Neeson and Linney are awesome, but we still have that itching feeling that the film isn't as special as Ebert says.

What I mean is, after decades of biopics, especially this year; a biopic has to be more than conventional. Unless the lead character is amazing and extremely watchable, like in "Ray", the film needs to show us something new. I mean, when you see a biopic, you pretty much know the lead is going be alienated from his family, obsessed with his work and full of inner demons. So give us something else, please.

Problems also arise with the introduction of Kinsey's staff, including bisexual Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard), Wardell Pomeroy (Chris O'Donnell) and Paul Gebhart (Timothy Hutton). The problem is, we hardly know any of these characters, so we are bored when they get into arguments because we don't feel that we know anything about them. When we find out that Martin is bisexual it comes as a surprise, but we react with a shrug. Sarsgaard's performance is surprisingly flat; that he's getting any buzz for awards surprises me.

I'm giving the movie a seven simply because of the professionalism Neeson and Linney display on screen. They are the acting pros; they wash the floor with the rest of the cast. The Academy voters will all be struck by lightning if either isn't mentioned. So see it for them, and about the rest, well, shrug.

7/10
32 out of 67 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Movie with an agenda and not particularly accurate
jackjack-22 January 2006
Viewers who did not live in the 1940s and early 1950s will be taken in by this very shallow treatment of a complex subject - sex. The movie has a definite agenda and it is not about Dr. Kinsey and it distorts much to make its agenda.

One would believe from watching this flick that Kinsey was the pioneer of the sexual revolution in this country. He was not. He rode the wave and exploited it. World War II was something of a coming out party. Many men learned much about sex during the War. Then under the GI Bill they went to college and that resulted in a much more sophisticated and liberal America. Early in 1947, a movie was shown all over the country. It was called "Mom and Dad". It was about the problems of teenagers having sex and the possibility of getting VD. The photographs were very graphic and nothing like this had ever been shown in theaters before. The showings were restricted to persons 16 years and older and patrons could buy two pamphlets, one about males and one about females. They were probably the first sex manuals ever widely distributed in the US. While very rudimentary, they gave many people an idea what sex was all about.

That was several years before Kinsey but at that time it was recognized that there was a lot of ignorance about sex, although the ignorance was not as deep as depicted in the movie. For example, the movie implies most people were ignorant of oral copulation. However, it was practiced much more extensively than shown in the movie but because it was considered "dirty" people normally did not discuss it, although it was often the topic of conversation among lower class men, such as eating "hair pie".

The movie overemphasizes the teaching of abstinence. While the clergy and military chaplains preached abstinence, it was not taught in health education classes nor in VD programs in the military. All servicemen were taught to use condoms and condoms were commonly used as a birth control measure. Most teenagers knew to use condoms to protect against pregnancy.

While Kinsey shocked many people with his books, particularly prudes, many were not surprised. He just confirmed what many already knew. But he made mistakes. He overestimated the number of men that had engaged in homosexual sex. At that time, many considered masturbation and mutual masturbation as homosexual practices and if there were people who if asked if they had engaged in a homosexual act, would answer in the affirmative when in fact they had never engaged in oral or anal sex. This was brought out in later studies, however, because it didn't fit the message of this movie, this mistake was not brought out in the movie. Further, while some of subjects had engaged in one homosexual act, more out of curiosity than anything, afterwards they felt it was repulsive and never again engaged in a homosexual act, but Kinsey never brought this out.

The movie blatantly states that Kinsey himself engaged in homosexual sex but that has never been verified. Some consider it just another effort by gays to make him one of their own just as they have attempted to do with Abe Lincoln.

A problem with the movie was that it sensationalized sex by showing pictures of sexual weirdos. It only detracted from the movie and made Kinsey look like a jerk.

His research while flawed, was done in a scientific manner. A true scientist but he lacked the ability to see beyond the data. He came to the conclusion that any sexual conduct was natural and therefore acceptable. He was advocating free sex. But he was an entomologist, not a sociologist. He was incapable of seeing what the impact of his thinking would be on society and he lacked an understanding of how all the sexual mores had been developed and why.

Surprisingly he did not understand the role of sex in a complex society. As an etymologist he should have understood how sex is regulated in the insect world. Examples are the ant and bee societies where sex is very restricted in the common good.

The problem Kinsey and many other free thinkers have is that they believed that the mores against free sex were based on religion. In fact it is not the case. The mores against adultery, sodomy, and homosexuality actually were the result of pragmatism developed from thousands of years of wisdom and they are evidence of a highly developed society. Our ancestors learned early on that diseases were sexually transmitted. They learned that sex outside of marriage created severe family and social problems so their societies developed rules against sex outside of marriage including homosexuality. At the time the religious leaders were also the leaders of society and by making such conduct sins, they became enfolded in religion. But any pragmatist can see the value of such mores in societies.

Extra-marital sex still remains the principle source of venereal diseases and of broken marriages as well as the source of many children born out of wedlock who don't have a family. The sexual revolution, which Kinsey helped promote, has resulted in serious problems for society as a whole. Prior to the Viet Nam War, sexually transmitted diseases were limited to three easily treatable diseases and they were not that prevalent. Today, as a result of free sex and a drug culture that resulted from the sexual revolution, the number of venereal diseases had more than doubled and they are either ultimately fatal or difficult to treat because they have become resistant to antibiotics.

If Kinsey had dwelt on how to improve sexual relations in marriage, he would have accomplished much but by reducing the human race down to a basic sexual animal he helped destroy thousands of years of accumulated wisdom and unfortunately, the movie fails to bring out the evil he caused.
20 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Delving into the Taboo
dataconflossmoor19 September 2006
Sexual intercourse was something that was perfunctory for purposes of procreation, and was left intact under those circumstances until a person named Sigmund Freud came along. Freud's rudimentary experimentation with psycho-analytical behavior relevant to sex, as well as other intense emotions, brought on copious mores of conscious thoughts pertinent to the individual's taboo elements of their constitution such as the libido and the id!! By the late 1920's in America, Freud's elementary findings on sexual behavior motivated Alfred Kinsey to initiate research that purported the yearnings of many people nationwide about exposing their intimate desires concerning sex!! The revelation of such proclivities made Kinsey a phenomenon in sexual research after World War II!! Many people were mesmerized and intrigued by the Kinsey Report!!! Alfred Kinsey, a biologist by trade, was determined in his desire to attain a grass roots recognition of the myriad of actions that were predicated on impetuousness!! This movie's basic plot revealed Kinsey's desire for the exposure of the lewd endeavors and double entendre habits which afflicted many "different" people!! Such a depiction of this individual known as Alfred Kinsey sparked a milestone in sexual knowledge to the mainstream American public!!

Liam Neeson did a tremendous job of acting as the role of Kinsey!! The entire film evoked a candid admission concerning lustful desires. If there were no such thing as desires about sex with so many people, Kinsey's research would not have been considered a breakthrough!! The film also points out that Kinsey's ideological binges with his research were often times halted by a lack of funding!!! Much of Kinsey's findings resonated to hedonistic wishes, much of them also translated to blatant intimacy!! Novice excursions with sexual deviancy made Kinsey and his wife educationally curious!! Attaining knowledge through various experimentation that both Kinsey and his wife engaged in, transcended infidelity and callous fruition, and relegated the two of them to the precarious plight of the ultimate guinea pigs!! These were emotions that were not sanctioned by love, rather, they were motivated by capricious lust!! Intellectual rumination on the motives of socially adverse carnality invoked a plethora of academic findings for Kinsey!! The end result of such research made Kinsey an unmitigated madman for the acquisition of perverted information!!

I found this movie to be very consciously significant...It was very socially sensitizing, especially in terms of the comprehension of the dogged tenacity Kinsey had to expose the perplexing facts about sex!!! A critical component to unearthing facts about an issue such as sex was merely to talk about the issue of sex!! This film depicts Kinsey's determination to attain knowledge about the historical importance of research and development germane to human sexual behavior which altered the lifestyle patterns of American living!! The cinema accommodated provision to the movie audience for Kinsey's findings that were in fact revolutionary floodgates that opened the formulation of the attitudes people have today!! The introductory dialog to this film is outstanding, and excellent performances by Liam Neeson and Chris O'Donnell make this film worth watching over and over again!! Bottom line, See this movie at least once!!
10 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Glorified Pervert
jvg-39 November 2004
Self-righteous bull about a man who used prison inmates jailed for sex crimes as "scientists" for his theory of sexual behavior. If molesting children and having sex orgies in your attic can be constituted as scientific experiments, I think Kinsey would fit right at home in the day and age.

I believe all the actors in this film to be very qualified in their job, and wonderful in other films, but do not know why they have chosen to waste their talent on such drivel. Just because Kinsey pushed the sexual revolution, does not mean he was a god. This movie only touches on one frame:poor, sad, misunderstood Kinsey. Not very convincing. My regards to Liam.
34 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Lets talk about sex
TheLittleSongbird8 February 2009
This is an intelligent and often moving piece of cinema, that is one of the highlights of 2004. Kinsey is about a scientist's struggle in convincing the world about the scientific approach to sexual behaviour. The performances from everyone around are fantastic. Liam Neeson gives his career-best performance, after his role in Schindler's List (which is truly disturbing). Laura Linney matches him wonderfully as his wife Clara, and Peter Sarasgaard also gives a fantastic performance. And there are also famous faces like Chris O'Donnell, Oliver Platt, John Lithgow and Tim Curry, though they had little screen time to develop properly. The soundtrack is fabulous, very moving and I genuinely mean that, and the film looks stunning. The only other problem with the movie, is it's length, it is a little long for a biographical drama. But the ending of the movie, was the most moving ending since the Elephant Man (The saddest film ever made) and bravo to Lynn Redgrave. This excellently observed film is well worth worthing. 8/10 Bethany Cox
8 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
And I think I should tell you, you're in for a terrible disappointment.
film-critic4 January 2005
I am not going to find much support when I begin to talk about this review as I have read so many others talk about how beautiful, powerful, and intense this film was. I, sadly, did not see that at all. Director Bill Condon has done so much better than this, in fact Gods & Monsters still remains a favorite film of mine, but with Kinsey he was working with a larger budget, bigger actors that cannot necessarily act well, and a time constraint that ultimately forces bad decisions in the editing room. This inevitably left the film choppy, gaping holes in the plot, and a complete lack of respect for this radical intellectual. While most will disagree with what I am talking about, I am going to explain to the best of my ability why this film failed.

To begin, let's talk about the biggest problem with this film, the editing. Maybe it was just I, but as this film reel was moving, I felt that there were crucial moments that were left out, forgotten about, or just ignored. I felt as if I was playing a two-hour game of hopscotch, jumping from moment to moment, never really settling down to tell the story. To begin, we start the film with Kinsey talking his own "Sex Test" as he demonstrates to his new crew on the different ways to proctor the test. Condon uses this technique to show Kinsey's past life and how it influences his answers. This was great. I loved learning about this man this way, but then suddenly it just stops. We are not shown anything else, and this style is ultimately dropped for something more "modern". By "modern" I mean flashing images of faces, prop cars, and darkened video shots, instead of this already defined crisp introduction. Then, as if to slap us in the face, we are reminded of it at the end. Either keep it, or loose it, do not reintroduce it at the end to attempt to bring the film full circle. It just didn't cut it for me. Then there were parts that were not explained in any way. Who was the man that they meet in the hotel? I didn't really care about him at all, I could see the Condon wanted to show a possible version of Kinsey in a couple of years, but in the short amount of time that we meet him it is hard to fully grasp anything. Next, there was the claim that Kinsey was becoming too "preachy". When did this happen? I know that Condon wanted him to seem more and more like his father Lithgow, but to just throw this line in there when it really didn't fit with the rest of the film didn't work for me again. Next was the entire "government" conspiracy thing that we blew over in a blink of an eye. The looming guy in the darkened corner seemed cheap to me instead of driving any emotion, I found myself chuckling at the overused cliché. It just felt as if Condon had "X" amount of time to fit this amazing person's life and chose to cut and paste instead of tell a story. It felt like a collage instead of a storybook.

After the choppy editing, I found myself taken aback by the acting. It was not good. Neeson shows that he can pull of a different character than we have seen in the past, but it is constantly garbaged with the acting of his fellow co-stars. Linney plays the exact same character she plays in every film. I saw characters of her Love Actually performance and Mystic River all in "Mac". She brought nothing new to the table. Peter Sarsgaard read his lines with the greatest ease possible, but did not act them. He was not cast well for the part. He needs more work before he can handle a role such as this. Then there was the ever-popular Chris O'Donnell who constantly was a source of hysteria throughout the entire film. It felt as if he was there for eye candy and nothing more. The only two actors that I can say anything positive about are Tim Curry and John Lithgow, who in constant darkness was the shining light of the film.

Finally, and this is going to be a tough one to talk about, but I need to say it. If someone other than Condon had directed this film I think the focus would have been different. I constantly support same sex marriage and relationships, but I didn't think that was going to be the central focus of this film. Every time we started to learn about Kinsey and about his life, we were pulled back into this gay-straight issue that seemed to overshadow the rest of Kinsey's work. It felt that Condon was placing too much focus on the "gay" issue, especially the gay male issue. I think that if a female or perhaps even another male director would have directed this film, we would have seen another side of this issue. Again, I don't want it to seem like I am upset about this, I just thought that there was just too much focus on this singular issue. This made the tear jerking commentary by the woman at the end seem a bit too Hollywood and surprising. What was the overall point of having her in the film? I realize that Kinsey has opened doors, but he has opened doors all around and we all have similar stories, why did hers need to be showcased, and why was the idea of a gay woman never explored? Who knows, I just felt a bit overburden with the issue when I think it could have been said that Kinsey explored all issues, gay or straight, he tried to open the door to this already taboo subject of sex.

Overall, I just didn't like it.

Grade: * out of *****
17 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
As disgusting and perverted as the man himself
theberserker01-16 January 2007
Liam Neeson does a convincing job portraying the sex-crazed maniac Alfred Kinsey. The movie is well directed and well written. The problem is, Alfred Kinsey was a pervert who was obsessed with sex, and pursued his desires in the name of science. The movie tries to make Kinsey seem like a real, legitimate, scientist. This veil can be easily seen through, and one can not help but wonder how much more twisted real man was than his on-screen counterpart. I was thoroughly disgusted by this movie, and feel it's "R" rating is a bit too light given the strong sexual material here. I give three stars for a well acted, well written movie, that tries to hard to make a legacy for one of the most famous perverts in American history.
15 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Boycott this Movie! sugarcoats pedophilia.
thund3rbolt30 December 2004
This movie masks the truths and horrors about this man's activities. I did a fair bit of research on this so called scientist and learn some of the REAL details. I was bitterly disappointed that the the movie portrayed him to be some kind of sexual hero when in truth he was nothing more than a pervert who used his pseudo scientific work to justify his own behavior. First of all it was directed by a gay activist who I'm sure was bent on showing how society has hidden behind moral values to isolate and demonize homosexual behavior. Although this is true, using this man's work to shed new light and understanding on the gay community is sort of like dressing a wolf in sheep's clothing. Here's some facts I have uncovered:

Kinsey relied on consultants -- in the form of pedophiles -- to gather added information on the sexual responses of children. One of these men was a notorious child-molester named Rex King, who was responsible for the rape of over eight-hundred children. This predator related to Kinsey numerous stories about his child rape in graphic detail, information that Kinsey considered to be merely "scientific research."

Kinsey's perversion started early. He became a scoutmaster at the age of seventeen, and in 1921, in a letter he wrote to a fellow YMCA counselor, boasted of a "nature library" that he possessed. This collection comprised nudist magazines that contained pictures and drawings of nude men and boys, and Kinsey would show them to his young male charges in his tent -- alone -- late at night.

As a professor at the University of Indiana, he took long camping trips with young male students. During these excursions Kinsey would parade around nude in front of the young men, bath with them and, according to the wife of one of the students, take advantage of them during group masturbation sessions.

Kinsey maintained a collection of "gorgeous" homosexual male photographs, and forced members of his staff to engage in various forms of sexual activity, ostensibly for the purposes of breaking down moral barriers against such behavior.

Kinsey conducted research that supposedly demonstrated that young boys -- as young as two months of age -- could experience multiple orgasms. He claimed that the maximum number observed in a twenty-four hour period was 26 climaxes . . . in a thirteen-year-old and a four-year-old. It took forty years for anyone to wonder how data is collected on the sexual responses of children as young as five."

You don't have to wonder for long, however. Dr. Judith Reisman, who has been a longtime Kinsey critic, received the answer from an actual member of the Kinsey team. This accessory, named Paul Gebhard, stated that Kinsey's men used "manual and oral techniques" to produce the desired effect.

There are numerous other facts and the more you uncover the more you realize this man was nothing more than a demon. I strongly urge you do NOT watch this movie which supports a group of people interested in nothing more than decriminalizing child molestation.

I'm sadly disappointed Steven Speilsburb would have ANYTHING to do with this movie.

Joe
30 out of 71 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Do not watch this movie thinking it is how things really were,, from all accounts given Kinsey was a far, FAR cry from how he is portrayed in this movie.
reddiemurf8130 March 2020
I'm giving this a 1 bc I don't want to encourage anyone to watch this. I'm not certain the man was written as he actually was,, more of how he would be in a good movie about his life,,, from what has been written,, he was a terrible, perverted person. This movie was well made, but very uncomfortable to watch,,, give it a big pass,,,
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
So many positive reviews - did you people really see the same awful movie I did?!?
bmarek15 August 2005
Amazing. How is it possible that so many people could be snowed into thinking that this is actually a good film? Every review I see posted here is, at the very least, mostly positive, and many positively gush. Well, I'd like to present you with a very different view of this movie.

First of all, I wish to make it very clear from the beginning that I am not a prude (or, to use a favorite word from the movie, "prig") and that moral concerns have no bearing on my feelings about this movie - I object to this movie on the only grounds that should really matter (i.e., aesthetic ones). Furthermore, this philosophy precludes praising a well-intentioned piece of {garbage} just to spite the idiotic and predictable right-wing reaction to it.

Those who know me know that I don't really watch a hell of a lot of movies, and when I do, I make a concerted effort to watch good ones (with an occasional movie that I know is bad and thus am mentally prepared for). One of the ways I maintain the quality of my cinematic experience is leaning towards films issued by Vaguely Artsy Pseudo-Indie Studios That Are Really Just Subsidiaries Of Huge Studios (henceforth referred to as "VAPISTARJSOHS"). You know what I mean; all those groovy little films with pretensions to art which nonetheless have a big enough budget to bring you Decent Actors Who Wish To Reestablish Their Street Credibility (henceforth referred to as "DAWWTRTSC") and a general approximation of slick, modern, competent film-making.

Generally the worst you can expect of such a feature is that it might be a little slow, pacing-wise, or boring. Unless, of course, the film in question is a little nugget of {garbage} called, "Kinsey". If this is the case, my friend, you are utterly and completely doomed.

"Kinsey" is, of course, a fictionalized drama about the man who had the guts and the vision to commission the first comprehensive study of sex practices in America. Based on this movie, though, you'd think he was just a brainy jerk with poor social skills and an unquenchable desire to discuss human sexuality at wildly inappropriate times - you know, kind of like "A Beautiful Mind" with Tourette's syndrome. It became a running joke for me to shout out, "worst family dinner scene ever", "worst wedding scene ever", "worst funeral scene ever" (et cetera) simply because, no kidding, Kinsey couldn't restrain himself from a creepily frank discussion of sex in each of these contexts.

Of course, this is all in the good old tradition (read: "hackneyed movie cliché") of the Dedicated Scientist Character Who Can't Behave Like A Normal Person In Society (henceforth referred to as "DSCWCBLANPIS"). Unfortunately this is not the only "tradition" (once again, read: "hackneyed movie cliché") we are subjected to. There are literally a million ugly plot devices, each of them either completely predictable or completely implausible. I don't claim to know much about the life of the real Kinsey, so I can't vouch for the truth behind any number of things that occur - but if certain events in the film were, in fact, legitimate, the filmmakers have utterly failed because they can't even make reality believable.

On the other hand, if they made this {garbage} up, they have no imagination and a b-movie sense of drama.

Jesus, what else can I say about this fetid piece of {garbage}? The soundtrack had all the subtlety and originality of a movie score from 1935. The characters had all the depth of cardboard cut-outs. There were so many "machines of God" (why wouldn't IMDb let me use the original Latin?!?) lying around that God must've been working overtime just to crank them out. About the closest this movie came to actual entertainment was during the closing credits, when a series of documentary clips of animals {fornicating} (filmed by the real Kinsey) is shown to the accompaniment of the standard, "Fever". Haw haw.

I won't name the various actors (many of them quite talented) who appeared in this stinker - they've suffered enough. But now that I've double-checked IMDb for the appropriate information, I will warn you all to avoid the "double threat" writer/director responsible for this garbage - Bill Condon. Yes, that's right, his last name is one letter away from "condom". Appropriate, because he's a scumbag who has removed all sensation from the film viewing experience and now deserves to be flushed down the toilet.
16 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
Unlikeable characters mean an unpleasant film
dannya22225 December 2006
I really disliked the film, not because of the subject matter but rather because of the portrayal of Professor Kinsey himself.

I have no idea what type of personality the real Dr. Kinsey had, but the one portrayed in the movie came off as an obsessive, tyrannical, socially dysfunctional caricature of a scientist. Scientists have often been portrayed as obsessive or socially awkward, and this movie jumps on that bandwagon and rides it into the sunset. It was impossible to like the main character, and hence the entire movie was painful to watch.

In a particularly annoying series of scenes, Dr. Kinsey has trouble getting funding for his research on human sexuality. This is completely understandable, given the sensitivity of the subject. I would expect a researcher on human sexuality to be quite familiar with the inhibitions and norms that make it difficult to discuss the subject objectively. Unfortunately, rather than understand, Kinsey rants about how important his research is, and tries to bully the representatives of funding agencies into giving him money. To put it bluntly, he was a jerk with no manners. Although there are jerks in all walks of life, the typical scientist that I have met is a far cry from the depiction of Kinsey: most scientists are soft-spoken, well-mannered, and thoughtful individuals.

The subject of the film could have been interesting if not for Kinsey's constantly abrasive on-screen presence.
10 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Kinsey: Let's Return to Decent Moral Standards in Film Making 1/2*
edwagreen10 February 2006
I'm not a prude but "Kinsey" goes way beyond the top.

It was utterly disgusting to see a grown man showing how many times he could ejaculate in a given time.

Is it any wonder that our wayward youth of today goes awry when they seen such things depicted on the screen?

A case could be made that Prof. Kinsey was some kind of a nut. The man was simply infatuated with talking about sexual activity-all kinds.

John Lithgow was believable as his preacher father who condemned everything immoral to him but at the same time showered his family with mental abuse. A story about the father himself would have made for interesting entertainment. Even the father talks about his sexual problem following his wife's death.

Not only should we return to decency in making motion pictures, it is time to return to good old fashion common sense as well.
19 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A study of the capacity of one man to cause society to see its hidden side
larrythelen30 November 2004
The movie conveys that Kinsey was driven by two things. He had an overwhelming compulsion to stay the course, to see the project through to completion, even when that meant spending thousands of hours capturing and sorting hundreds of thousands of items, the final project being the most comprehensive study of sexual behavior ever undertaken. Secondly, however, below the surface, he seemed to need to, and took evil pleasure from, exposing society's most hidden, shameful, behaviors just for the shock value. Dedication to his first compulsion resulted in our having a far better, more honest understanding of natural human sexual behavior. Indulging his second compulsion however greatly undermined the efficacy of that effort.

Kinsey and Harvard Behavior Modification psychiatrist B. F. Skinner in their studies, it seems to me, suffered from the same shortcoming. They ignored deeply anchored motivations in favor of focusing exclusively on short-term stimulation-responses. Worse, they assumed these surface motivations were all there were.

Skinner never addressed the capacity of humans, as perhaps distinguished from other animals, to create their own values, based on each person's unique understanding of the world and resulting motivations. Similarly, Kinsey myopically divorced the physical act of sex from the massive layers of psychological support that build up to it.

There is no one-night stand, I submit. Claim as they will that they are only interested in a good-time tonight, in relieving their built up sexual appetites, participants in sex have deep- seated yearnings for the act to result in bonding. If there is no repeat, it is because one finds an essential ingredient of continuing the bonding process to be missing. For failing to factor in this essential motivation, Skinner tell us lots about what people do, but nothing about why they do it.

Infidelity, for example. When the unattached sleep around, they are merely continuing to shop, not yet having found a satisfactory bonding. In contrast, what we call infidelity is really the evidence of a breaking of the bonding, not the cause of it. And of course, because sex itself is a bonding, the extramarital sex accelerates the separation process. While the movie Kinsey makes this point nicely several times over, the notion seems to have escaped the man himself.
10 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Good film shows Kinsey's strengths and weaknesses
AlsExGal3 October 2010
Kinsey indeed did the nation a favor when he published his studies of the sex habits of the American male and female and the nation finally got a chance to see what was actually being done sexually versus the repressive conventions of the times that had many people believing that they were sexually abnormal. However, if the facts of the movie are largely true, it seems that Kinsey fell victim to the same basic fallacy as Ayn Rand. Kinsey seemed to believe that just because something - in this case sex - can be described and studied objectively, that it can and should be practiced objectively.

For example, Kinsey plunged into a homosexual affair with his assistant - with his wife's full knowledge - because he wanted to explore a side of himself he felt he had been repressing. His wife seems quite hurt by the revelation, but later she embarks on an affair with the same assistant when he tires of her husband,apparently with Kinsey's encouragement. Maybe this worked for the Kinseys, but for most people this type of behavior would break a relationship. It also seemed odd that Kinsey was as insistent and preachy about adults being sexually liberated as his father had been with the opposite viewpoint, ultimately alienating his own son just as his father had alienated him.

In the long run Kinsey's work was key to decriminalizing all kinds of sexual behavior that had been considered deviant up to that time. Because, as Kinsey states, "Everybody's sin is nobody's sin. And everybody's crime is no crime at all".

This film was a very balanced and frank biopic of Dr. Kinsey, in my opinion.
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed