Wylie Writes @ Inside Out 2014: Oddball Comedy is Merkin Me Laugh

The Foxy Merkins (DIR. Madeleine Olnek)


By: Addison Wylie

Margaret (played by Lisa Haas) has taken on the life of prostitution and homelessness.  Being that she’s a lesbian, her clients are all high end females looking for a good, undisclosed time.

While on her way to find a place to sleep, she meets Jo (played by Jackie Monahan).  The two hit it off almost instantly, and Jo – who’s also homeless – soon starts to show Margaret how to live comfortably in a public washroom.  Their friendship gets stronger and their business becomes more lucrative as more customers proposition the pair.

Madeleine Olnek’s The Foxy Merkins is an oddball sex comedy.  It’s hard to describe the more outlandish meet-ups Margaret and Jo have – such as the one with a salesman in a graveyard.  But, the film is easy to like and the performances are endearing.

Think of The Foxy Merkins as Napoleon Dynamite’s curious cousin.  The film works best when Olnek takes a vignetted narrative and uses it to have her bungling characters send up quirky laughs.  The dates Margaret and Jo embark on with customers are a scream as they deal with various bizarre fetishes.  Some of these kinky encounters overstay their welcome, but they never become uncomfortable for the audience to watch.  Olnek, Monahan, and Haas all wrote the script as well, which explains why they have such a good handle on how strange the exchanges get.

Olnek’s coasting pace fits right in with the “anything goes” frame-of-mind of the leads.  The film, however, starts to feel mechanical when a plot involving Margaret’s family is suddenly thrown into the mix.  It’s almost as if the filmmaker is conforming to certain movie rules instead of abiding by her own creative apirations.

By the end credits, I was slightly disappointed by how The Foxy Merkins ended.  It pulls its own plug too quickly.  That said, I was genuinely tickled by the film’s sense of humour, and I often found myself laughing harder than I expected.  It was enough to consider Madeleine Olnek’s flick a quirky, somewhat flawed success.

Catch The Foxy Merkins at Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival on:

Saturday, May 31 at 6:45 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Click here for more details and to buy tickets.

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