Tuesday, March 29, 2011

REVIEW: Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *

*But Were Too Afraid To Ask
(dir. Woody Allen, 1972)

It's always a treat to see the early work of a famous artist.  Be it Blood Simple by the Coens, Mean Streets by Martin Scorsese, or Following by Christopher Nolan, it manages to show the greatness that lay ahead (or in many cases, the shock that the person who would later make this could have ever made that).  And this is what brings me to Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Too Afraid To Ask, Woody Allen's 1972 vignette comedy about all things sexual.

Based loosely--and by loosely I mean they share a title and the theme of sex--on David Reuben's advise book, this work of Allen's foreshadows decades of self-conscious penis references, nebbish men nabbing hot girls, and askew takes on everyday predicaments.  I'm actually quite fond of Allen pre-Annie Hall work (which is saying something, since said films are few and hard to come by) with Play It Again, Sam being one of my favorite movies of all time.  It panders not only to Allen fans, but Casablanca fans as well.

But back to Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Too Afraid To Ask. It opens with a somewhat overall weak vignette with Allen as a court jester in Medieval England.  Anthony Quale makes a hilarious cameo as a sex-crazed king, which allows Allen himself to shine as the horrible fool of court.  His deadpan delivery is as priceless in 1972 as it is in 1986, for I often wonder if anyone can deliver a bad joke as well as Allen, and only because he also knows it's bad!  Here, Allen makes awful jokes seem like zingers to the viewer, as we giggle at just how awful the joke is.  Not to mention, he compares Lynn Redgrave's chest to a pair of "tomatoes."

Baaaaaaaaaaad Romance
The following acts are hits a misses.  Gene Wilder as a sheep-loving doctor is probably the best performance in the film, if only for Wilder's ridiculous commitment to the part. The faux-Italian cinema spoof with Allen playing a macho man unable to bring his wife to coitus doesn't really ever get going. Another scene with an accidental transvestite is a riot, and only because Allen knows when to cut the joke and end the vignette. Another scene featuring the quote "I don't know if you've read my book, Advanced Sexual Positions: How to Achieve Them Without Laughing" and an "enormous tit" terrorizing the countryside is pure Allen. And the finale, and probably the film's most famous scene, is the inner workings of a man's mind during a date and eventually during sex.  Needless, and not surprisingly, to say, Allen plays a Sperm cell.

Overall, a choppy movie, but a clear direction of where it's going and what it wants to do.  The acting is what it needs to be, without many standouts even with a stellar cast.  Wilder's acting and Allen's script are the highlights, and it's a nice treat for lovers of Allen.  GRADE: B



  1. Parts of this movie were a little iffy for me.
    I had forgotten about that Gene Wilder skit though...he pulled off a sort of charming creepiness so well.

  2. Yea Wilder rocks. I like the small skit about the "Guess My Perversion" game show complete with Jack Parr and Regis Philbin. I laughed at the classiness of it all. Allen finds everyday things and makes them funny...that's why I love him.