For Judge Daryl Loomis, holidays are always a good reason to go commando.
Love will turn you around.
Aside from Christmas, the biggest holiday in the Scandinavian regions is Midsommar, the celebration of the summer solstice. It's no wonder; with the long northern nights and frigid winters, the longest day of the year is truly cause for celebration, a time of magic and maypoles that is ripe for romance. American director Ian McCrudden (Mr. Smith Gets a Hustler) travels to Sweden with Luke Perry (Beverly Hills 90210) in tow to portray one atypical Midsummer party and deliver a romantic comedy with just enough complication to keep things interesting.
Emil (Daniel Gustavsson, The Girl Who Played with Fire) has planned a huge Midsummer festival this year, with all his local friends coming and Sam (Perry), his best friend from America showing up for his first time in Sweden. Everything is set for a great party, but Emil has another surprise in store, one that will greatly surprise his girlfriend, Susanne (Lisa Werlinder, Munich), and make the whole party wonder if they should have come at all.
Fair warning, horndogs: despite the provocative title, this is not the kind of sex comedy that one might expect from a Swedish import. It deals with sex to a certain extent, but it's no festival of the flesh. Instead, it's a celebration of the romantic beauty of Sweden and an observance of the often tenuous status of relationships. A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy is a pretty film that shows of Sweden's landscapes very nicely and features a simple, economic plot but, overall, this is an insubstantial piece. It's enjoyable enough at the time but, like so many summer parties, completely forgotten afterward. That isn't a bad thing exactly; sometimes a trifling comedy is just what the doctor ordered. Excepting the gorgeous landscapes, which get plenty of screen time, there's little here that makes the film stand out at all or make me want to seek out more from the director. I absolutely won't recoil in horror from the name Ian McCrudden (he's no Ulli Lommel) nor will I expect a whole lot from one of his pictures. This is a competent film, but little more than that.
The story's not bad, with a plot reminiscent of The Lost Weekend or The Big Chill. Like those films, old friends getting together opens up old wounds and cuts in new ones; for better or for worse, this weekend will change all their lives, and it's a matter of watching it all go down. That produces some definite cringe-worthy moments, but nothing terribly dark or mean. These are characters with good intentions and bad ideas; Almost universally, the combination spells disaster, and that's where the fun lies. The performers all do pretty well with the material. About a third of the film is in English, with the rest in Swedish. Luke Perry is the only native English speaker of the bunch, but everyone is believable and fun in their roles. Perry's not an actor I go out of my way to watch, but he acquits himself as the confused (but still cool, don't worry) and kind of slimy American who went to college with Emil and is visiting Sweden for the first time. Lisa Werlinder is an appealing actress and a solid lead; I won't be surprised to see her in larger international productions. The performances are probably the only thing to take away from the film, which isn't enough to make it great, or even memorable, but it's a decent film that warrants a mild recommendation.
Distributed by Red, A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy is an average disc with a few problems. The image looks good, with nice colors and decent detail for a standard definition transfer. The sound is very average. There's claim of 5.1 surround, but it's barely noticeable; the mix is as front-heavy as it could possibly be, but it's clear and bright in all the channels that actually feature sound. The only real issue is with the subtitles, which have odd spelling and grammatical errors, as though they were written by Swedes without a strong grasp of English. It's occasionally distracting, but not that big of a deal. The only extra is a short introduction from the director, which is marginally worth a listen.
A Swedish Midsummer Sex Comedy is an average film in every way. It's features a pretty country and lovely people but, while there's nothing about the film that rings badly, none of it makes me want to watch it again.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elan Entertainment
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