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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mature drama focuses on the age-old question of whether people can have sex without becoming romantically attached. The twist here is that it’s the women who are pursuing the casual encounter, but it’s less surprising that the main characters all start to develop feelings for each other. The film shows adults in adult situations, with plenty of drinking and smoking and a few people smoking marijuana. There is plenty of profanity and many explicit discussions about sexual activities. The numerous, graphic sex scenes feature lots of thrusting and sound effects, but no actual nudity.
What's the story?
Donna (Amber Benson) and Christi Ann (Kristen Kerr), two Los Angeles roommates, decide to try something new: hiring male prostitutes they hope to pick up at a bar. But as it turns out, they’ve mistaken two construction workers, Joe (Johann Urb) and Stanny (Stevie Long), recently transplanted from New York, for professionals. They pair off, but what appears to be a transaction -- it’s not; the guys aren’t hustlers -- ends up a friends-with-benefits situation. They invite the men to live in a cabana next to their house, and that soon turns complicated when love develops between the two couples.
Is it any good?
With its graphic sex scenes and constant swearing, STRICTLY SEXUAL is strictly grown-up fare. But it’s grown-up fare done badly. Though the female leads show promise, their male counterparts offer sub-par performances, either overacting or underacting moments. Still, the acting’s not the biggest problem with it. The writing is. Riddled with expository dialogue, it’s the epitome of telling, not showing. Scene after scene has characters sitting down ruminating, but the conversations offer little wisdom. For a movie about sex and relationships, it’s a snoozer.
The film does attempt to untangle the mess that is modern relationships, and for that, it deserves some credit. (The subject’s certainly worth exploring, despite repeated attempts by other movies.) And in some ways, it captures a certain kindness in friendships -- not just among women, but among men, too -- that’s worthy of celebrating. But there aren’t enough of these moments to rescue the film from tedium.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about romance and sex. Do you think it’s possible for two people to have a strictly-sexual relationship, without developing romantic feelings for each other? Do you think such a relationship is healthy?
Do you think it’s unusual that one of the female characters seems so interested in sex without romance, even more than her male partner?
- In theaters: February 24, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: February 24, 2009
- Cast: Amber Benson, Johann Urb, Kristen Kerr, Stevie Long
- Director: Joel Viertel
- Studio: Arts Alliance
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, pervasive language and some drug use