Synopsis: ORGIES AND THE MEANING OF LIFE is an eccentric and exciting film illuminating the inner and outer life of Baxter Goode, a man trying to find an ending to his book about a sex obsessed stick figure searching for a portal to the three dimensional world, as his father, a best selling Christian author, tries to stop him. His life is further complicated by his search for the one woman who will liberate him from his long addiction to orgy fantasies.
eyelights: its basic premise. the stick-figure animation.
eyesores: some of the performances.
“With THE ONE I will not imagine orgies with other women!”
Baxter has a major problem: when he has sex with a woman, he can’t seem to keep his erection going unless he imagines himself having an orgy with a half-dozen women – all of whom are people he’s known or been in relationships with. It’s never been much of a problem aside for the fact that he’s seeking the one, that special woman with whom he assumes he won’t need to fantasize.
Except that, for all his hook-ups, he’s not finding her.
However, Baxter has another problem: he feels empty inside. He believes that he can only fill that void by finding this woman, the right partner to share his life with. And thus, without that special someone, he despairs, feeling incomplete. He doesn’t feel real, three-dimensional, and this has inspired him to write a metaphorical autobiographical stick figure visual novel.
Essentially, it’s a collection of stick figures having sex, seeking the meaning of life.
But one day Baxter will go for coffee with a girl he met online and, despite being soundly rejected by her, he becomes fascinated with her. And fantasizes about her. And hopes that they will meet again. And hit it off. But will he? And will they? And will he ever be able to expunge these fantasies from his mind? Will he ever feel complete, three-dimensional, happy…?
Such are the questions being posed in ‘Orgies and the Meaning of Life’, the 2008 existential sex comedy by Brad T. Gottfred.
Frankly, I liked the concept, and I enjoyed some of the dialogues, which I thought were both thought-provoking and amusing. But I had a difficult time with some of the performers, in particular Gottfried, who felt stuffy, not entirely natural in the part of Baxter, but especially Katherine Carlson, whose delivery was wooden (to say the least!) as his lesbian roommate, Denny.
Still, the picture has its share of inspired moments, such as the many stick figure animations that reflect Baxter’s novel and are analogous to the situation he’s in in those moments; they’re great fun, and are hilarious when they’re having sex. There are also Baxter’s many sexual fantasies, which can at time be rather sexy, but which are chiefly enjoyable because they reveal his psyche.
Ultimately, I loved that Baxter’s issues revolve completely around being able to reveal and share his fantasy life with another person; having been raised by a strictly religious father, he is deeply ashamed of his sexual identity. It’s only when he accepts that part of himself and is able to disclose it to a prospective partner that he can get beyond his troubles and move on.
It made sense to me.
After all, unless one is vanilla, sharing one’s sexual identity with an intimate partner is the ultimate leap of faith: one’s deepest, most secret side is being exposed to potential rejection by someone you most want acceptance from. And who knows what they’ll think, how they’ll react: Will they be upset, offended, repulsed? Or will they accept, love or even be turned on like we are?
It’s enough to keep someone up at night.
‘Orgies and the Meaning of Life’ tackles this and many other things in its own quirky, original way. Is it a perfect film? Hardly. It’s a low budget production that would have benefited from A-list actors and greater technical skill. But, on paper, it’s pretty darned good, and it boasts so many creative touches that make it worth its while that I can’t help but recommend it.
I’d certainly be curious to see what else Gottfred, the writer-director, has been up to.
Date of viewing: April 30, 2016