"THE OPPOSITE OF SEX"|
105 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, May 22, 1998 (NY/LA)
Wider: Friday, June 12, 1998 (major markets)
Written & directed by Don Roos
Starring Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan, Lisa Kudrow, Ivan Sergei, Johnny Galecki & Lyle Lovett
This film is on the Best of 1998 list.
SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 25%|
LETTERBOX: COULDN'T HURT
Somehow the delightful wickedness doesn't seem as scathing on the small screen. I think it's because the voice-over doesn't come across as unusual as it really is. And the more somber, dramatic elements seem stronger. This, however, does not diminish the recommendation!
VIDEO RELEASE: 1998
Director/editor/producer commentary isn't terribly insightful to anyone but those doing the talking. A lot of "I don't know if we had any trims or cuts in that scene, did we?", not enough discussion of casting, perfomances, writing, character development. "Theatrical Trailer" isn't what it says it is - it's an ad for the video. Still, it's worth getting on DVD for the widescreen.|
NOTABLE BONUS MATERIAL
Commentary, deleted scenes (with commentary), trailer
1.85:1 ratio; Dolby 2.0
Dubs: French Subs: English, French
DVD RATING: **1/2
Ricci runs away with 'Sex' as its narrator, a sarcastic teenage tramp
On its surface, "The Opposite of Sex" seems like a darkly comic romp through the tangled, hapless life of a manipulative teenage tramp.
The film stars the enormously talented and adolescently sexy Christina Ricci as DeDee, a 16-year-old runaway, taken in by her gay half-brother, who intentionally and inadvertently wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone she comes in contact with.
But look deeper and this movie is more like a complex emotional drama for smart-assed cynics. Most of the events that unfold between DeDee, her brother and his lover -- whom she seduces as her first act of treachery -- are really rather grave. But with DeDee in charge as the narrator, everything is interpreted through her bluntly misanthropic, twisted little Lolita point of view.
"I don't have a heart of gold," she says early in the first reel, "and I don't grow one later."
Ricci, sensuously curvaceous with her lingering baby fat and with her hair dyed blond, revels in DeDee's ability to push people's buttons. Running away from an abusive household, she drops in on her half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan) and makes herself at home, almost immediately changing into a bikini and lounging around the pool, quizzing Bill's boy toy beau, Matt (Ivan Sergei), about the degree of his homosexuality and accusing him of prejudice for not wanting to sleeping with her.
Before long he's wrapped around her finger. She announces she's pregnant and spirits away to Los Angeles with Matt and a stack of Bill's savings.
As if in control of the story itself, DeDee gleefully manipulates the audience, demonstrating, for example, how she can bring up the sappy music to make us feel sorry for her abandon half-brother, then remarks cheekily on how pathetic he is.
Bill gives chase with Lucia (Lisa Kudrow), the shrewish sister of Bill's recently deceased life-partner, and things quickly become complicated with DeDee's former lovers coming out of the woodwork and fabricated molestation charges against Bill, a school teacher.
"The Opposite of Sex" is wonderfully emotional and layered in its primary story, which is really about Bill and not DeDee. But devilishly clever writer-director Don Roos gets to have his drama and mock it too by tinting everything with DeDee's constantly tart commentary.
As narrator she acknowledges the need for certain story-telling conventions, but also takes pot-shots at their use, like drawing bitter Lucia as a sympathetic character with a little sorrowful narrative background, then adding, "None of this makes me like her more, but I thought you should know."
Later, while delivering her baby, she splits the screen in case we'd rather to watch something else, since she's knows the scene will be a parade of childbirth clichés like breathing, pushing and screaming for pain-killers.
Triumphantly trashy DeDee is the most creative character in any movie so far this year, and Ricci's sublimely sarcastic performance, in concert with her raw and subtle turn as another sexually confused teen in "The Ice Storm" last year, solidifies her foothold as the one of the most promising actresses of her age.
She even manages to play the sympathy card for DeDee late in the film without selling out, after things have stopped going her way and she's tied to a murder.
A real treat for savvy movie-goers, "The Opposite of Sex" is the opposite of the lowest common denominator popcorn flicks that are certain to dominate this summer.