"Love is a minefield," Kate (Famke Janssen, Dr. Jean Gray in X-MEN)
tells us in the introduction to LOVE & SEX. "You take a step and are
blown to pieces."
This philosophical film by writer/director Valerie Breiman would have
been more aptly titled REFLECTIONS ON RELATIONSHIPS, but, of course, the
current title is a more marketable one. Love and sex there is, but the
characters spend more time discussing the twin subjects than engaging in
them. And when it comes to sex, Janssen would appear to have a
no-nudity clause in her contract, since she stays partially clothed in
situations which would much more naturally be engaged in without
Although most of the staging never quite rings true, the movie does
commendably place both of the leads in real jobs that they actually go
to. Most cinematic characters appear to live off of some off-screen
sugar daddy, permitting them to live without the toils of work.
Kate is a cubicle dweller at the headquarters of a women's magazine
named "Monique." Kate's only honest piece of writing -- about oral sex
as a cure for depression -- is rejected by the magazine's eponymous
owner, played without emotion by Ann Magnuson.
"They say 'you have to kiss a lot of frogs to get a prince,'" Kate tells
us before finding hers, an avant-garde painter named Adam (Jon Favreau,
the crazy cop in THE REPLACEMENTS) who likes to paint things like a
woman with a severed head coming out of her rear. As her fourteenth man
and his fourth woman -- these numbers are featured prominently in the
storyline -- Adam and Kate form an instant relationship based on caustic
wit. He, for example, likes to call her by her school nickname of
"horse face" and takes great delight in ridiculing her big feet.
"Hey, I believe in relationships. Mine are just short ones," Kate
explains to Adam after he finds out that he's number 14 on her
relationship dance card. "You're like a whore!" he tells her. They
have the sort of strange chemistry whereby they both think that it's
funny that he calls her a whore. They also enjoy sharing bedtime
As they compete in the insults derby, in which he always wins, Adam and
Kate become best friends. They love arguing. He tries to prove that
men age better than women by asking, "Who's better looking: Sean Connery
or Shelley Winters?"
The supporting cast of Kate's various other boyfriends includes Josh
Hopkins as a Robert De Niro-obsessed porn star and Noah Emmerich as
Eric, her number two. Like the rest of the reflective characters, Eric
is full of dating suggestions. "Scheduled spontaneity is the key to
long-term love," he says.
As witty as the script is, the direction is way off the mark. The cast
almost uniformly suffers from a bad of case of low energy. Scenes seem
designed more for cuteness than believability. And never is the
chemistry between Adam and Kate genuine, which is the kiss of death for
a romantic comedy.
Although the movie has some wonderfully acerbic moments and some
insightful parts, it is basically forgettable fluff. You'll kind of
enjoy it while you're there, but after you leave you'll wonder why you
LOVE & SEX runs just 1:22. It is rated R for language and sexual
situations and would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes