Judge Gordon Sullivan discovered that Love to a Woman is a new cocktail.
A Comedy About Miscommunication Between the Sheets
If we're honest with ourselves, we can admit that sex, at least the mechanics of sex, is simple. It's all biological hydraulics, and it's pretty well hardwired into the human behavior system. If we continue the honesty, we also have to admit that even if sex is easy, that doesn't make it automatically enjoyable. Aside from a few general guidelines to what almost certainly won't feel good, everybody is different. Comedy is often bred out of difference, especially sex and romantic comedies. How to Make Love to a Woman is another in a long line of these kinds of films. While it has a strong cast and some decent laughs, it can't quite rise above its formulaic plot to be memorable.
Andy (Josh Meyers, Date Movie) has been with his girlfriend Lauren (Krystne Ritter, 27 Dresses) for a year. He's only now discovering that he's never really satisfied her in bed. Because he fears this might be a deal-breaker in their relationship (which Lauren is already starting to waffle on), Andy sets out with his best friend Layne (Eugene Byrd, 8 Mile) to learn how to please a woman in bed. His journey will take him to lesbians, porn stars, and even to his own parents. He'll eventually have to learn that he had everything he needed all along.
I had an epiphany while watching How to Make Love to a Woman: I finally figured out what separates good romantic comedies from mediocre ones. I used to think they were all pretty equal (except the really bad ones), and enjoyment was purely a preference thing. Now I know that what separates the good from the so-so is the simple fact that good romantic comedies make it easy to believe in the central story, so that viewers are rooting for the couple to get or stay together throughout the whole film no matter how bad things get. I had this realization because although How to Make Love to a Woman has some great actors and some funny lines, I just couldn't care about this schmuck and his inability to listen to his girlfriend. Add that to the fact that the film plays out in the exact same boy-loses-girl/boy-gets-girl-back and there's not much for prospective viewers to hold on to.
In How to Make Love to a Woman's defense, it's not a bad romantic comedy, only a mediocre one. The cast do the best they can with the tired material. Josh Meyers manages to make his clueless dolt somewhat charming, and the always dependable Eugene Byrd gets to strut his stuff as the sidekick Layne. The best part of the film, though, is Krysten Ritter. She's mostly been relegated to the role of friend in other women's rom-coms, but here she gets her moment in the spotlight to shine for all she's worth. I hope it leads to more starring roles for her. Also, although the overall plot is trite, the dialogue has some moments of hilarity when delivered with conviction by the cast. These few laughs mean the film isn't a total waste, even if it seems like the actors could do better with more effective material.
It should probably be noted that although How to Make Love to a Woman is a film about sex and features porn star Jenna Jameson, there's no nudity in the film. Although there's some profanity, there's not much else in the film that's terribly explicit. It's like the filmmakers were trying to ride the Judd Apatow line between filthy and innocent and came off in some nowhere land that isn't quite either.
On DVD, How to Make Love to a Woman looks and sounds fine. This obviously wasn't a high-budget effort, so the video isn't perfect. Detail isn't terribly strong, but colors are solid and there are no serious compression problems. The dialogue is clearly audible in the 5.1 mix, even if the surrounds aren't used very much. The extras include a making-of featurette and some cast interviews that give a pretty good idea of how production went, and there are some outtakes where we can share in the on-set hilarity. The other extra is a music video for artist Lindsay Richards (who plays Nomi in the film).
How to Make Love to a Woman has a very late-night-cable feel to it, and that's probably the best way to catch the film—surprised, with low expectations. Although there's nothing that sticks out to make it a bad film, not even good performances and a few laughs can overcome the generic mess of the plot. Worth a rental for the truly desperate rom-com fan, but otherwise not for most viewers.
How to Make Love to a Woman is guilty of wasting talent on an unremarkable script.
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