Trimark // 1999 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // February 7th, 2000
A comedy that answers the question "What would happen if your wife said yes to a menage-a-trois...and loved it!!
Trimark Pictures presents us with a ribald comedy about sex, insecurity, and "the home court advantage" with this non-theatrical release of The Sex Monster, directed and written by Mike Binder (Indian Summer, Blankman, American Gothic). It premiered at the 1999 Aspen Comedy Festival in March, and is now available to view at home. A very bare-bones disc, still it's a pretty wacky comedy with some very suggestive overtones.
This film seems to be an ego trip for Mike Binder; he wrote, directed, and played the male lead named Marty, a role where every married man's fantasy gets to come true. The fantasy I speak about of course is convincing the wife to agree to allow another woman to have sex with both of them. The wife in question is played by Mariel Hemingway (Deconstructing Harry, Little Men, American Reel), a meek housewife who thinks her ho-hum sex life is very "nice." It takes more than a bit of convincing before one drunken night they climb in bed with hot little Didi (Reneé Humphrey, Cadillac Ranch, Mallrats, French Kiss), a co-worker of Hemingway's Laura. Binder's fantasy has come true, and he is ecstatic, even calling a friend during a break for bragging rights. It begins to occur to him that this isn't quite all he hoped for when he realizes that the two women haven't stopped for a second while he was taking his break. And he never quite heard his wife scream that way when he was making love to her. Things go downhill quickly when suddenly his tame wife turns into "The Sex Monster"; a walking orgasm waiting to happen. Now every time he comes home he finds another woman in his bed -- his secretary, his friend's wives, and of course Didi. Didi doesn't take this whole thing as a night of fun, and appears to be pursuing a serious relationship with Laura right in front of him as well. The scenes where Marty comes home to open his bedroom door and find out who the "extra girl of the day" is are quite funny. Then he sputters and tries to complain about the other women, but what can he do when the wife says, "We were just warming up for you, sweetheart?" He did start this whole thing after all.
Kevin Pollack (End of Days, The Don's Analyst, From the Earth to the Moon), one of my favorite character actors, steals the show in the scenes he is in as Marty's doctor, a proctologist. His role is largely unrelated to the main plot, but still got the biggest laughs from me. Stephen Baldwin, the less well-known Baldwin brother, plays Marty's friend who thinks he needs to get his wife to set a "lunch date" with Laura. I remember him from another film ironically named Threesome, as well as The Usual Suspects and a TV movie called Absence of the Good, which has recently been produced as a DVD; expect a review on that shortly.
This disc is about as bare bones as you can get. It is a full frame transfer, and I was unable to determine, even from Trimark, if that was it's original format. The colors are well saturated, and blacks were black enough. I noticed no evidence of grain or film defect. The audio is an uninspired Dolby surround, but adequate for the material, which is largely dialogue based. The only extra is the trailer.
I have a few complaints about the film as well. It is basically a one trick pony; the running gag about the wife hotter for other women than her husband gets tired before the end of the movie. There are a couple other sub-plots that help move it along, but we get a lot of that same gag. This next complaint is purely a guy thing. Here we have an R rated comedy full of sex, with quite explicit language, and stars like Mariel Hemingway who have not been shy about taking their clothes off in front of a camera, yet there is virtually no sex shown on the screen. The camera goes to black or just shows shaking bedposts to an explicit sound track during the sex scenes. I felt like I was being teased. The best a guy with prurient interests gets to see is one glimpse of Reneé Humphrey, and a few fairly hot scenes of women kissing.
Overall I enjoyed the film, and it even produced a few genuine gut-laughs. I was still disappointed about some of the film, and the disc has nothing to truly recommend it for the format. So I give it a recommendation as a rental only; and guys who are having this fantasy can watch it with their wives; though after seeing it they might be more willing to leave the fantasy in the mind rather than fulfilling it.
Mike Binder is excused from the court without charges for a decently well done comedy, better than some (*cough* Mickey Blue Eyes *cough*) I've seen recently. Trimark is excused as well, but I am a bit disappointed in this offering for DVD.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R