The Opposite of Sex

Every year I make a compilation of my favorite dialogue from that year’s films. Writer-director Don Roos’ audacious comedy “The Opposite of Sex” would fill the list and then some. It’s a film filled with some of the most biting and wittiest dialogue I have heard in some time.


oppositeofsexAlmost every line is a gem. My favorite comes when the film’s anti-heroine DeeDee Truitt (Christina Ricci) makes a comment about her mom wanting to be her best friend. It comes early in the film, and I won’t quote it here because you have to hear it in context to fully appreciate the icy delivery. Roos spent eight years writing for television before churning out such screenplays as “Love Field,” “Boys on the Side” and “Single White Female.” He’s developed a flair for writing strong female characters, and none is more brassy or alive than DeeDee Truitt.

As played by Christina Ricci, who has developed into a remarkably mature young actress, DeeDee is the sort of tramp who gives poor white trash a bad name. She’s a hellcat in heat, and when she gets fed up with her trailer trash existence, she decides to high tail it to Indiana and move in with her gay half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan, so very good in a tough role). She doesn’t call.

She doesn’t write. She just shows up at his front door, where she meets Bill’s hunky gay lover Matt (Ivan Sergei, so handsome it hurts). While Bill is glad to meet his half-sister, her presence raises red flags for Lucia (Lisa Kudrow, better than she has ever been). Lucia is the sister of Bill’s ex, whose death Bill still morns. You feel sorry for Matt, because he’s always being compared to the dead ex. DeeDee plans to change all of that. Always the schemer, DeeDee works his hussy magic over Matt and gets him to walk on the opposite side of the tracks. Then DeeDee tricks him into believing that the child she is carrying belongs to him, and voila, Matt turns into an attentive straight father-to-be who is willing to do anything for DeeDee and his child.

That includes stealing $10,000 from Bill, and moving to Los Angeles to start a new life. Bill’s life becomes a nightmare when one of Matt’s ex-lovers shows up and circulates a rumor that Bill tried to take advantage of him when he was a student at Bill’s school. Of course Bill gets fired from his teaching position, and always the true romantic, heads off to California to track down Matt and DeeDee. It’s a road trip filled with plenty of surprises and laughs. There’s also a heart beating in “The Opposite of Sex,” but it might be hard to get a pulse when you’re laughing so hard at the clever dialogue and bodacious situations. Roos dares to be different, and includes cinematic conventions that in any other film would be trite or obnoxious.

There’s voice overs, flashbacks and a leading character who isn’t very likeable. Ricci is delicious as DeeDee. You want very much to like her, and for the most part, Ricci makes the character sympathetic. Yet there are moments where DeeDee does something so cruel you want to slap the crap out of her. Now that’s acting. Lyle Lovett is adorable as the local sheriff who has a crush on Lucia, and finds the most inopportune moments to profess his feelings to her. I’ve always been a fan of Martin Donovan, but he really shines here. He has the hardest role, and yet makes Bill so human and three-dimensional.

How could anyone not like this guy? Kudrow sinks her teeth into the juiciest role of her career. At first, Lucia is a busybody who needs to get a life, but as the film matures, so does her character. What really endeared me to “The Opposite of Sex” was Roos’ ability to toss political correctness out the window and deliver a film that is both entertaining and challenging. I’ll probably add “The Opposite of Sex” to my top ten list at the end of the year, it’s that good.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ X ] EXCELLENT [ ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

Judging from past experience, I’ve come to expect a better-than-average digital transfer from Columbia-TriStar Home Video DVDs. “The Opposite of Sex” is no exception. Except for two glaring missing frames, the transfer is perfection. Gorgeous, vibrant colors, sharp, steady images, lifelike flesh tones and impeccable blacks combine to create a stunning picture. Columbia-TriStar realizes their customers needs, and offer both the full-frame and widescreen versions of the film. The widescreen version is delivered in the film’s original 1.85:1 ratio, enhanced at 16:9 for widescreen televisions. If you’re really curious just how much extra information is available on the full-frame version, check out the scene where DeeDee and Matt have just finished making love and she tells him that she’s pregnant in scene six. In the widescreen version, it doesn’t look like Ivan Sergei is wearing anything. The full-frame version shows the sheets carefully draped around his lower regions. No noticeable compression artifacts or pixelation.

HEARING: [ X ] EXCELLENT [ ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

Extremely expressive 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track is full-bodied and distinct. Impressive dialogue mix comes through loud and clear, while the stereo split is pleasing without being overbearing. There’s also a French language track and an alternate running audio commentary track.

ORAL: [ ] EXCELLENT [ X ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

Closed captions and subtitles in English and Spanish.

COORDINATION: [ X ] EXCELLENT [ ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

When I was doing stand-up comedy, one of my favorite jokes was “How many debutantes can you put in a blender? So far I’ve only been able to fit two.” That’s the tone of the catty remarks by writer-director Don Roos, producer Michael Besman and editor David Codron on the DVD’s alternate running audio commentary track. I highly recommend that you watch the film first before listening to the audio commentary because these three tear through the film like Liberace trying to reach the sequin booth at a crowded swap meet. Roos never seems satisfied with the final effort, while Codron talks about the difficulty of cutting the film with minimal coverage. There’s the usual location patter, plus insights into the different moods the actors were in while filming the movie. For instance, Roos discusses Lisa Kudrow’s distractions the day she was nominated for her second Emmy award for “Friends,” while Martin Donovan wasn’t feeling up to an amorous encounter with Ivan Sergei. It’s all very interesting, and while the film is their baby, these guys are way too hard on themselves and their offspring. Roos mentions that the first assemblage of the film ran over two-and-a-half hours. Some of the deleted scenes turn up as bonus material, but others are missing-in-action. Roos talks endlessly about cutting scenes he cherished, but most don’t show up as bonus material. What’s that all about? You can watch the five deleted scenes with or without Roos commentary. Watch them without the commentary first. I thought each and every scene was just a vital as anything in the film. Then listen to Roos explain why the scenes were deleted. His reasoning in very sound, but I think my opinion would have been tainted if I had listed to Roos’ opinion first. The DVD also features handsome main and scene access menus, and the original theatrical trailer. All-in-all, a handsome presentation.

PROGNOSIS: [ X ] EXCELLENT [ ] GOOD [ ] RESUSCITATE [ ] D.O.A.

So is it possible to wear out a DVD before you get tired of watching it?

VITALS: $29.98/Rated R/100 Min./Color/28 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#01839

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: THE OPPOSITE OF SEX: SPECIAL EDITION

BIRTH DATE: 1998

HMO: Columbia-TriStar Home Video



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