A Little Sex (1982)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 2, 1982 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Nathan Southern

Television giant MTM Enterprises took its first leap into feature films with this R-rated sex comedy. As scripted by Robert De Laurentiis and directed by Bruce Paltrow, it's neither awful nor remarkable, just misgauged and only fitfully successful. The story is essentially your basic arrested adolescence tale - with a bad-boy "hero" growing up by learning the joys of nuptial monogamy. The main flaw of the movie is simply the fact that Tim Matheson's character (Michael, a director of television commercials) is so unsympathetic at the outset. He's apparently supposed to be a genial, charming cavaleur but instead comes across like a chauvinistic, oversexed heel who needs a cold shower. His redemption feels satisfying when it finally arrives, but to get to it, we initially have to spend time with a smarmy pig. It doesn't help the movie's case that Michael's other half, elementary schoolteacher Katherine (Kate Capshaw) is so lovely, charming and vulnerable - viewers will find that their sympathies lie entirely with this young woman, and not with her philandering hubby. The early scenes are unpromising - particularly the risible ads that Michael directs, which look more like softcore porno set-ups than actual network spots. However, the picture improves somewhat in its second half, as De Laurentiis and Paltrow make a beeline for earnest drama with scenes where Michael comes to his senses. This is particularly true of a wonderful sequence in which he gazes at his wedding photographs and it dawns on him just how much he loves this woman. Developments like this have a satisfying poignancy, although a bit involving a children's video that Michael creates for Katherine's class (in which he uses a lot of phallic metaphors and basically apologizes to her for screwing around, in front of the kids!) seems fantastically inappropriate. Explicit dialogue notwithstanding, this film would probably play a lot better as a network movie-of-the-week than a theatrical feature - which is unsurprising given the pedigree of the creators. In fact, it's startlingly similar to Matheson's TV movie Warm Hearts, Cold Feet (1987), which has the charming tone for which this strives but avoids the smarminess.

As a footnote: television buffs may want to stick around for the full credit roll. The picture ends with an adorable cartoon variant on the famous MTM logo, in which Mimsie and a purring gray tomcat rub against one another. That's easily the best thing in the movie.