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Cinema: Flailings and Failings

2 minute read
Jay Cocks


Directed by WOODY ALLEN Screenplay by WOODY ALLEN

Woody Allen should have taken a shot at Inside the Third Reich. Or even The Naked Ape. Dr. David Reuben’s well-scrubbed almanac of sexual aid and comfort only affords Woody another opportunity to turn mating rites into mayhem. It was an opportunity he ought to have passed up.

Woody’s Sailings and failings at sex have been the subject of a good deal of his work, most recently in Play It Again, Sam. But now the jokes are well-worn, and good, manic ideas are congealing into formulas. Bananas was Woody’s best movie, not only because it was his wildest but because it dealt with such eminently ridiculous matters as Latin American politics and TV newscasters.

Here, back on overly familiar territory, Woody loses a lot of momentum.

The movie is divided into seven sections, each a sketch derived from one of Dr. Reuben’s leading questions.

Many of the ideas sound good on paper: in “What happens during ejaculation?” Woody plays a nervous sperm; in “What is sodomy?” Gene Wilder appears as a nice Jewish doctor who lusts after a sheep. The laughs, though, remain mostly in the silliness and audacity of the notions themselves. The skits wind down rather than take off from the ideas.

Sex includes some broad, funny send-ups of other movies (Fantastic Voyage, La Notte), and its fair share of memorably wacky lines. “I have to think of something quick,” moans Woody, playing the court jester in a demented medieval allegory. “The Renaissance will soon be here and we’ll all be painting.” But overall it is just Woody marking time and being merely a little funnier than, say, Sex and the Single Girl.

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