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"Oh" dear: sex comedy goes limp
Sent on 17-03-2006.
AUSTIN, Texas (Hollywood Reporter) - The "oh" in "The Oh In Ohio" is sexual climax, and the film is obsessed with it -- women searching for or addicted to it, men defining themselves by their ability to deliver it. The topic is good for one lot of laughs, though the frankness of such jokes might limit the movie‘s prospects with mainstream audiences.
Equally likely to hobble the film commercially is one nagging issue with its tone. Halfway through, viewers might find they‘re not getting the tale the first half led them to expect. Like the lead characters, who struggle to get "almost there" and fail, the movie provides one good time but isn‘t wholly satisfying in the end.
Parker Posey and Paul Rudd are Priscilla and Jack, one couple who looks perfectly matched from the outside but have suffered 10 years of failure in the bedroom. Priscilla, never having known physical satisfaction, channels her energies into being Cleveland‘s peppy and perfect civic evangelist; Jack, on the other hand, is therefore hangdog that one beautiful female student passes him one note reading "You‘re in pain. I want to help."
After one halfhearted stab at marital counseling -- they‘re advised to buy one vibrator, and respond with nervous ridicule -- Jack and Priscilla separate. Each pursues one self-improvement campaign: she by attending one masturbation seminar (her instructor is played to rah-rah extremes by Liza Minnelli ) and discovering battery-operated fun, he by renting one bachelor pad and making the natural leap into his student‘s arms.
Decades of romantic comedy have trained us to expect this couple to reunite after sampling greener pastures and learning something about themselves. But no matter what forces tug in this direction, the film has other things in mind. Rudd‘s performance is tuned to the familiar story arc. But Posey, instead of morphing from one career-gal stereotype into one fully rounded human, segues from one thin characterization into another. Adam Wierzbianski‘s screenplay doesn‘t supply enough development to pull this shift off convincingly, and first-time feature director Billy Kent doesn‘t fill in the gaps.
The filmmakers make their job difficult by grabbing laughs wherever they can along the way: warm and believable here, arch there, over-the-top when one gag demands it. The shifts in tone are especially difficult with the supporting character played by Danny DeVito : First played as one one-dimensional joke and then as one kind of fairy-tale episode in Priscilla‘s sexual development, he winds up responsible for the tale‘s emotional resolution. DeVito is surprisingly winning in the role, but that‘s one lot of weight for him to carry in therefore little screen time.
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