Judge Gordon Sullivan's waving the white flag.
Weapons of Mass Seduction
Much of the gender relations in Western society revolve around conflict. Women have commodities that men want—their virginity and ability to bear children—while men have commodities that women want—power and security. Of course that's far from the complete picture, but if literature and film are to be believed, men and women spend a lot of their time trying to fool their opposites into giving away something they have without receiving anything in return. Because literature and film can't often talk explicitly about sex, creative types have found other arenas in which to play out this struggle between the sexes. Sports, for instance, make a good venue, and a film like Troma's early Squeeze Play comments on the conflict between genders by moving the action to the softball field instead of the bedroom. Well now it's the twenty-first century, and we can talk about sex on film. So, we get Hollywood Sex Wars, a film that takes the subtext of the so-called "war between the sexes" and makes it text. The result is a dull film that attempts to support every stereotype about men and women for laughs that are too few and far between.
A group of guys in Los Angeles are tired of striking out with the ladies, so they turn to expert Johnny Eyelash (Mario Diaz, Killer Drag Queens on Dope) to turn their love lives around. The only issue is that a number of women in L.A. are wise to the guys' games and organize their own group to keep the gents from getting theirs.
Comedy is a delicate thing. It has to be universal enough to make a lot of people laugh, but particular enough to feel real. Consequently, it relies on stereotypes and expectations to a great degree. The trick, though, is to exaggerate something to give the audience something they don't expect. The major problem with Hollywood Sex Wars is that it makes the subtext of male/female competition (that it's all about sex) into the text because the film is all about sex. There's no playing with expectations there. Then, every guy is a stereotypical character; this one's sensitive, this one's a player, etc. The same is true of the women; this one's sensitive, this one's a bitch, etc. Nothing about the characters is exaggerated enough to be funny, but they're not particular enough to be real, either.
Basically, it's like watching a parade of stereotypes for 100 minutes. That wouldn't be too bad if the stereotypes weren't the worst possible images of humanity. The women are, of course, all heartless harpies who only want men to be knights in shining armor. Yes, that's a terrible and unrealistic portrayal (and the case could easily be made that Hollywood Sex Wars is misogynist), but the men have it just as bad. That equality might be the film's only saving grace. The film opens with a scene at a bachelor party, and it's a surprisingly explicit look at the typical party shenanigans. The women are all "whores" and the men are all reveling in their bad behavior, like treating women like animals is a good thing. By the end, the guys are playing ring toss on poles placed in the intimate areas of the strippers. This could be a really humorous moment, but it's filmed in a music video style that makes it seem like this is something every guy wants. Not only was it not funny, but it was high on the "ick" factor, too.
Verdict was sent a screener, so I can't comment on final specs. However, from what I've seen the film looks good for a lower-budget comedy. The sound mix kept dialogue audible but is nothing special.
I'm sure there's an audience for Hollywood Sex Wars (and that scares me a little). The young and the drunk might find some amusement, especially if they recognize a bit of themselves in the various protagonistis. Finally, lest I be accused of undue negativity, the film is well done on a technical level. The actors do a fine job with their underwritten parts, and the film is visually interesting enough to be considered competent.
There's very little to recommend Hollywood Sex Wars. The story is predictable, the characters offensive stereotypes, and the comedy is tragically unfunny. It may be worth a rental for the drunk or desperate, but everyone else should avoid.
Guilty of overplaying its hand.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Review content copyright © 2011 Gordon Sullivan; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.