When you're 14 years old, everything is hard!
Skipped Parts is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Tim Sandlin (who also wrote the screenplay). When you were a young kid and just learning about the birds and the bees, wouldn't it have been nice to have had a hot to trot mother who was able to explain to you just what a "wet dream" was? Luckily for the protagonist in Skipped Parts, he's got one hot mama in the way of Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female). Skipped Parts is a coming of age story featuring not one single exposed breast. Regardless, it's still a funny look at what many of us went through to find out what it meant to "get a stiffy." Skipped Parts is presented on DVD from Trimark Home Video.
Facts of the Case
It's the 1960s and aspiring novelist Sam Callahan (Bug Hall) is a 14 year old student with some BIG questions about everyone's favorite topic: sex! Sam and his sexpot single mother Lynda (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have been banished for an extended period of time to Gro Vont, Wyoming, by Sam's stern grandfather Casper (R. Lee Ermey). Casper is a southerner running for Governor and doesn't want his wacky daughter or illegitimate grandson to get in the way of his political aspirations.
While in Wyoming, Sam and his mother set up shop in an old rustic cabin. They meet a busload of townsfolk, including 14 year old Maurey (Mischa Barton), who Sam immediately falls for. At the same time, Lynda starts to "date" (if you know what I mean, and I think you do) a Native American Indian named Hank (Michael Greyeyes). She does this for two reasons; 1.) she likes sex more than the air she breathes, and 2.) it will upset her domineering, bigoted father.
Complications arise when Sam and Maurey start to discuss what sex is all about. The decision is made to do some experimenting and find out what all the hushed whispers are about. Neither one knows what they're doing, but with a little help from Lynda they just may be on track to learning what all those "skipped parts" are about!
Of course, the constant reader already knows how I lost my virginity to a roving band of Ukrainian gypsies at the tender age of eight. It's a story of lore that's been told countless times. This being the case, I was able to identify with Sam and his plight to find out about "the big naughty." Skipped Parts is a little movie that deals with a pretty big topic. Though I wasn't always thrilled with the message is relayed ("If you get pregnant at 14, don't worry! It will all work out!"), Skipped Parts still had plenty of sweet moments to capture my attention for an hour and a half.
The script by author Tim Sandlin is filled with some funny lines and cherished innocence. The characters never come off as one-dimensional, with the relationship between Casper and Lynda being complicated and funny. Why does Lynda still stay at home with her father if she can't stand being near him? And on the other side of that coin, why does Casper even keep her around if he's so embarrassed by Lynda? Casper is determined to have Sam boarded at a military school, probably in hopes that he doesn't turn out anything like his mother. These people are the definition of a "dysfunctional family."
Skipped Parts hinges on having diverse and funny performances. This story has been told many times; it would take years to count the number of "coming of age sex comedies" cluttering your local video shelves. Director Tamra Davis never lets the performances topple over on each other. The characters are not off-the-wall crazy or too nutty to become stereotypes. Each has a down to earth quality and a subtle gentleness to them. Most all the dialogue rings true. On the phone Grandpa Casper tells Sam that if his mother keeps up her rebellious behavior she'll have to answer to God. "And would that be you?" Sam quips before hanging up. Moments like this, and many others, didn't make me laugh out loud. Skipped Parts is not that type of movie. Instead it finds smaller, gentler moments that made me smile and chuckle.
Bug Hall, cursed with a horrible first name, excels as Sam, a naïve child whose pre-occupation with sex leads him to some funny and embarrassing situations. He does a charmingly good job as an awkward, bumbling boy who has much to learn about women and the spots that make them moan. Leigh (also a co-producer) is sufficiently sexy and tempting as Lynda, a mother who hasn't the foggiest idea how to be an upstanding role model for her son. Drew Barrymore (Charlie's Angels) pops up (pun intended) as an erotic fantasy, though her "character" is sorely underused. Then again, her character is just there to look pretty, so maybe she does fit the bill. As usual, R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket) does a wonderful job in his supporting role as Casper, a southern bigot who thinks he can keep his extended family under his thumb by paying their living expenses.
Skipped Parts is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. There is no mention of the aspect ratio, but I assume it was 1.85:1. There was a slight bit of darkness to some of the colors, though otherwise they were bright and natural. The picture had some softness to it in spots, and only the slightest amount of grain was spotted in the very middle of the movie. The picture quality was good, though nothing exceptional.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English. The track was free of any distortion or hiss, and the dialogue, music and effects were all clearly mixed. The surround feature was engaged during some scenes, though this is mainly a dialogue driven movie, so the need for a bombastic track is not needed. English, Spanish and French subtitles are also included.
Skipped Parts features only two supplements: a full frame theatrical trailer and a commentary track by director Tamra Davis. Davis is a bubbly, insightful person who has a genuine passion for the movie. She tells some good stories about the production (the recording of this track was the first time she'd seen the film since it was filmed), and seems to really like the way the movie turned out. She also thinks that actor Michael Greyeyes is the hottest hunk this side of Wyoming.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
First off, I want to see a raise of hands from anyone whose mother ever tasted a small drop of your semen after your first wet dream to make sure that it was indeed a wet dream.
Yup, that's what I thought. I think that the author of this film has a lot of issues to pan out at his weekly therapy sessions.
Though I thought Skipped Parts was a funny movie, I'm not sure it's meant to be watched by anyone under the age of about eighteen. The message it pounds out about youth and sex did not sit well with me. Skipped Parts has the courage to announce that a slutty mother, two 14 year old parents and a floozy best friend will make a nice, nuclear family. Though I wasn't asking for the film to preach abstinence, I was none too impressed with its attitude towards youthful casual sex.
A cute movie that is enjoyable for adults only. Usually I don't throw that kind of warning around, but when I do I mean it; kids who are just starting to learn about sex and relationships will do well to stay away from Skipped Parts. Learning about sex and discovering its hardships is tough enough without six billion mixed messages intervening. All technical aspects of this disc are above passing. Skipped Parts will make for a nice rental with someone you love (and is hopefully above the legal age of consent).
Free to go, though someone needs to sit down with it and have "the talk."
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