Every so often, a movie comes along and upsets me heavily with how it wastes prime opportunities. February has slung that film at me and it’s called Sex After Kids, a Canadian independent comedy helped out with a successful IndieGoGo campaign.
The only thing that stops me from getting really angry at Sex After Kids is that there is not a mean bone in its body. Filmmaker Jeremy Lalonde has truly tried to make a relatable movie about relationships (six of them, to be exact. All tied to each other in a Garry Marshall fashion) and the intimacy set backs that occur when kids are brought into the picture. He’d also love to make his audience keel over with unbarred hilarity.
There are concepts in Sex After Kids that are honest and could’ve genuinely led to organic emotions and laughs. Not all of them take off because Lalonde hasn’t spent enough time fleshing some of these out (a married bartender who’s tempted at work by a younger, flirty waitress who hands him risqué pictures, a desperate single mom who looks towards perversions to find love), but there are a few sub-stories within the film that have lots of potential.
Take the situation involving an older married couple who have said “goodbye” to their daughter as she tackles life by herself. Horton (played by Jay Brazeau) wants to invite sex back into the aging relationship, but Dolores (played by Mimi Kuzyk) wants to welcome it in with an adventurous bang (mind the pun) which freaks out Horton.
There’s also a story involving a successful husband (played by Peter Keleghan) and his wife, a former model turned housewife (played by Amanda Brugel). While she shows commitment to the relationship, he realizes that his affection was merely based on looks. He’s falling out of love because she dresses down and is frequently in shambles.
Lalonde takes these premises and dulls them down using the broadest of comedy while directing the scenes as if they were community theatre sketches. Poorly rehearsed ones at that.
The side story about the older parents is reduced to a load of jokes that result in punchlines that are only supposed to be funny because the characters are old. Instead of wittiness involving another generation trying to figure out modern day kink, Lalonde would rather have obtuse reacting and Brazeau’s bare backside generate the funnies.
The pluckiness among these troubled parents is too strong and pushed beyond comedic comprehension, while being accompanied with the “quirkiest” background music you’ll ever hear.
The title children are all used as props to get our characters from point A to B within their personal flimsy arcs. Whenever the children are acknowledged, it’s to point out how much of an inconvenience they are. You see a lot of kids being nurtured, but the audience never gets the impression that anyone really loves their children.
This also opens scenes up for chances to use baby sound effects. So, the audience has to struggle to hear the impersonal dialogue over the sound of a whaling toddler. It’s funny ’cause it’s true?
Gordon Pinsent shows up every so often to convince you to stay in your seat. Pinsent isn’t flexing his acting muscles too much, but I’ll take it. He’s always a pleasure to watch on screen. His persona is what generates minor snickers during a private therapy session with sexless couple Jules and Ben (played by Shannon Beckner and Ennis Esmer).
Otherwise, Sex After Kids is virtually charmless, lending minimal insight into what it takes to muster through the terrible twos and find time to be private with your loved one. With Sex After Kids finding its way into Toronto’s Carlton Cinema around Valentine’s Day, this night out at the movies will provide as much romance as a musty motel with stained sheets and thin walls.
More importantly though, Sex After Kids is the ultimate birth control. Forget condoms and the morning after pill. After you watch this staggering flick, you won’t want to have children or even start a relationship. You’ll want to grow a beard and live in the mountains.