Who knew that it was still possible to make an eighties sex comedy?
Oh, sure, I realize that this movie was made in the year 2000, and is finally coming out in 2003, and that Jimmy Fallon is only a couple of years older than I am, meaning he would have been working his way through middle school when this movie was made, if it was really an 80’s sex comedy. But still.
Consider the plot. Three down-on-their luck guys have been reduced to trying to sell plasma more than once a week in order to make ends meet. They get caught at it, and get thrown out of the blood bank. Exiting the building, they overhear a conversation between a little girl and her mother, wherein the girl tells how her grandma sent her fifty dollars in the mail.
So the boys beat up a postman and take his mail bag. They find no cash and no checks, but they do come across a note from a soon-to-be nun to her father. She wants to speak to him about the fact that she’s concerned that she may give into sexual temptation over the summer.
The girl, it turns out, is named Alison, and she’s the daughter of Rotunno, who’s running for governor. It seems he’s a religious man, and the boys hatch a plot to videotape Alison, ahem, breaking her vow of chastity and sell it to a newspaper for big bucks.
To pull this off, they seek advice and cash from a local newspaper reporter who says they have until next Friday at 11 PM to bring the videotape to him.
The group, for unclear reasons, elects Ray (Jimmy Fallon) to get Alison into the sack, by pretending to be rich. This works surprisingly well, since it seems Alison only wrote her letter of temptation in hopes that her father would send her to Italy for the summer.
Which is to say, she needs the cash. So she starts playing Ray up for his money, taking his cufflink and having Ray buy her an expensive bird, which she then returns to the pet store for a full refund.
When suddenly, the film starts to work.
It’s weird. From the word go, forty minutes worth of skrewball (With a K. Yes.) comedy have gone by, complete with all those eighties-late-night-cable staples. The spring noise when people pop up from behind the bushes. The slide whistle when people look up in the air. The musical score written and performed on the wall of keyboards.
The zany sex hijinks.
And then, it’s a romantic comedy with Jimmy Fallon filling in for Billy Crystal, and Andi Tecec filling in for Meg Ryan, and it becomes funny, and sweet, and by the way, who knew that Jimmy Fallon would make such a good romantic lead?
Jimmy is stuck with a mess of a character in the form of Ray. Here’s a man who absolutely must have sex with Alison if he’s going to get his money, but at the same time desperately wants the relationship to work out. It’s the only element in the story that doesn’t feel forced, that isn’t trying to wring laughs out of a fairly unfunny joke.
There was one other thing I appreciated about the film, and I’m still not sure if it was an accident. I think this may be the first film I’ve seen in which one of the characters was black and no one talked about it. No ‘hood jokes. No “The mac daddy gonna show you how it’s DONE” gags. No “You know what the problem with whitey is” bits. Wonderful.
And that’s it for the good stuff. The rest of the film alternates between dull, trite and unfunny. At one point, they go so far as to resort to slipping a love potion into Ray’s drink, a gag that’s so tired it’s last only to fake birthdays and gay misunderstandings in eighties films.
There’s also the problem of Alison and her roommate as future nuns. For reasons I don’t completely understand, Alison confesses, multiple times, that she plans on having sex with Ray. Her roomie, however, doesn’t seem to have any sort of problem with this, even when Alison states that she’s going to have sex with Ray just to get his money. Wouldn’t a religious woman have some sort of a moral problem with this idea?
The truth of it is, Elvis made a better movie, both humor and content-wise, in the form of “A Change of Habit” decades ago. And if there’s anything even worse than aping an 80’s flick – it’s aping an Elvis flick.
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