Joy of Sex (1984)

joy of sex 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teens can’t get laid.

This film will kick off a month long theme where every Monday we’ll review an 80’s film that has the word sex in the title. The title to this one was purchased by Paramount from a sex manual written by Alex Comfort. The studio was so convinced that the title alone would create a box office buzz that they hired two writers to write a story around it only after the rights to the title had been secured. The plot deals with Leslie (Michelle Meyrink) a teen that reads an article about skin cancer and is convinced that the mole on her chest is a melanoma. Despite the fact that her Dr. says it isn’t she still believes that she is dying and goes on a crusade to lose her virginity before she does, but with little luck.

Although the movie has received almost unanimously negative reviews including a ‘bomb’ rating by Leonard Maltin I was surprised to find that the first 20 minutes or so is actually quite engaging. Some of the humor is kind of funny including the running joke of a ‘krazy glue bandit’ who terrorizes the administrators of the school by gluing all sorts of weird things on objects including coffee cups on the breasts of an outside statue, Mr. Potato heads to trophies inside a trophy case and a dildo inside the mouth of a fish that is the school mascot. There is also Farouk (Danton Stone) an early version of Borat who misunderstands American customs for instance when someone asks him to ‘give me five’ he hands him a five dollar bill and some of the thoughts that Leslie has while she makes out with a guy in a car are also pretty funny.

Where the film goes wrong is that it is just too damn innocuous. There is no tension, edge, or conflict. The majority of the movie deals more with Allen (Cameron Dye) and his inability to get laid instead of Leslie. The teen characters are one-dimensional and their adult counterparts come-off as staid, stiff, and out-of-touch. What is worse is that the film spends the entire time talking about sex, much of which is not very clever or interesting, but then never shows any of it. There isn’t even any nudity, which may be because the film was directed by a woman which may please the feminists, but as a guy if I’m expected to sit through something as vapid as this I would at least like a little T&A to help carry me through.

Meyrink is terrific and the one good thing about the movie. She is the only character that comes off as a real person and her nerdette caricature is a delight. Christopher Lloyd who plays her high school coach father over does it by delivering all of his lines in a drill sergeant-like manner that eventually becomes annoying. I also didn’t care for Colleen Camp who plays an undercover cop posing as a student. She was thirty at the time and looked it and I think the other students would have realistically thought the same thing. She also has a protruding mole on her right cheek that looks like a big pimple.

I did like Paul Tulley as Ted Vinson a crusading news reporter who expounds on all of society’s ills. Leslie meets with him because she thinks he can use his influence to get her friend Sharon (Cristen Kauffman) back in school after being kicked out for being pregnant, but instead finds that he simply is interested in having sex with her. This reminded me of former Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene who would write a lot of whiny, sappy, overwrought columns about society’s perceived moral decay only to end up being caught in a sex scandal himself.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: August 3, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes

Rated R

Director: Martha Coolidge

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, Amazon Instant Video

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s