Synopsis: If you could have sex with no strings attached, would you? Donna (Amber Benson) and Christi Ann (Kristen Kerr) try their best, with funny and heartbreaking results. Tired of dating and relationships, the daring women keep two young men in their pool house for strictly sexual purposes. Joe (Johann Urb) and Stanny (Stevie Long) are unemployed New York construction workers who have found themselves living with two beautiful and successful single women. But the hardest part about all that sex? Sometimes you find yourself falling in love. In the vein of Sex And The City, this film is directed by Independent Spirit Award Winner (John Cassavettes Award) Joel Viertel, and written by Stevie long, who also stars in this heartfelt, ensemble comedy about how sex and love can make us laugh and cry at the same time.
Strictly Sexual 8.0
eyelights: the dialogues. the performances. the character dynamics.
eyesores: the mean things the characters sometimes say to one another.
“Ok. You caught me. I mean, men are not the only ones who like to whack off like zoo monkeys. Why isn’t it okay for girls to just like fucking? If you could have sex, once a week, no attachments, no expectations, just straight up fucking, would you?”
Donna is horny. Tired of getting off by herself, she coaxes her best friend, Christi Ann, to join her in picking up a couple of gigolos at a high end bar’s lounge. However, she misjudges the situation and picks up Stanny and joe, a couple of construction workers from Queens who are looking for work in Los Angeles. Oblivious, the four go back to her large Laurel Canyon home for sex.
By morning’s end, trouble brews when Donna attempts to pay the pair. Stanny, the hot head of the two, feels used and storms out. Joe, however, returns to ask for the money; they’re too broke to pass it up, he decides. But Christi Ann, self-conscious about her lovemaking skills, and wanting the practice, comes up with a plan for the two men to move in the pool house as employees, for on-call sex.
Strictly for sex.
Naturally, it’s not as easy as all that.
Such is the basic premise of ‘Strictly Sexual’, a 2008 sex comedy written by Stevie Long, who also stars as Stanny. It illustrates how complicated human relationships are, no matter how simple the terms of engagement are: People are more than what they appear to be on the surface, and their intentions can get skewed by emotions and desire. Throw them together, shake and stir for interesting results.
What makes ‘Strictly Sexual’ as good as it is is the writing: Long’s penned some strong dialogues laced with humour and filled with potent discussions about male-female relationships. He tackles gender stereotypes and purposely spins them on their ear, which is something I really like. Under his pen, men aren’t just men and women aren’t just women; he blurs the lines, interchanges their traditional roles.
The dialogues felt real. Not true, real. What I mean by this is that sometime people say things that aren’t true just to win arguments or to hurt each other, out of spite. Long wrote these characters to be flawed and, thus, prone to saying things that may not be logical – but that are likely in certain situations, especially given their respective temperaments. Honestly, I bought into it wholesale.
Even if I didn’t always like what they had to say.
The performances were also very good. Not stellar, but good enough to sell the parts. My favourite of the lot is Steve Long, who played Stanny with conviction. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s his script or if it’s because he actually believes what Stanny says, but I would like to think that someone who thinks like Stanny wouldn’t be able to flesh out his characters and give them depth the way Long does.
Long also takes a relatively grounded approach to the plot and gives his characters arcs that made sense to me. I was relieved that, by the end, he didn’t just wrap it up in the defiantly naive way that most Hollywood romantic and/or sex comedies tend to. Some characters have happy endings, other don’t, and, to quote Stanny: “Life is just a bunch of stories you go through, and they all end sooner or later.”
There’s always the next story.
‘Strictly Sexual’ may not have rocked the box office (few indies do), but, as of 2009, it was the most viewed film ever on Hulu – enough so that they commissioned a (short-lived) television series. I look forward to seeing that given Steve Long was involved in its making. I know that it may not be as captivating, but it’s a concept that could easily translate into a longer form series. So I think it has potential.
And I’ll be following Stevie Long’s career closely. Given that ‘Strictly Sexual’ is his first film, it’ll interesting to see the path he takes from this point onward. He’s since directed his first motion picture (from his own script), called ‘Beautiful Girl’, which has an intriguing premise. Sadly, it’s only available online. But the moment I find it on DVD, I can promise that I’ll be grabbing at it eagerly.
If it’s anything as smart as ‘Strictly Sexual’, it’ll be worth the wait.
Date of viewing: February 21, 2016