Sex and Death 101 Movie Review

Daniel Waters has one of Hollywood's most intriguing resumes. After writing his first film, Heathers, Waters trolled through the Hollywood meat grinder, writing some of the '90s worst big-budget movies: Demolition Man, The Adventures of Ford Fairline, and the widely-razzed Hudson Hawk.

Waters dropped out of Hollywood for nearly a decade before reviving himself to write and direct the largely forgotten Happy Campers. After another six year hiatus he returned again with Sex and Death 101, which has the distinction of reuniting Waters with Heathers star Winona Ryder... who's been through her own travails, as well.

Sex and Death 101 gives a man named Rod (Simon Baker) who receives an email that lists not just every women he's ever slept with, but every woman he will sleep with. Turns out there's 101 names on the list, which is disconcerting, since Rod is set to be married to #29 on the list in a matter of weeks. He dismisses it as a joke but ends up "accidentally" doing a stripper at his bachelor party. The marriage is soon terminated, and Rod ends up with #31 on the list (a centerfold who loves pudding), and it's downhill from there.

Rod is roped into a pristine white chamber where holy types explain that this is all a goof-up on behalf of "the machine," urging Rod to destroy the list. Think he does? Well, would you? Naturally, the list begins to take control Rod's life. He can't meet a woman without checking to see if her name's on the list. When he tries to "spite" the list and develop a relationship with a lovely veterinarian (Leslie Bibb), it doesn't work out. The list can't be beat.

As for the death side of the title, that comes into play when #101 approaches, and it's revealed the name is the real moniker of a serial killer nicknamed "Death Nell" (Ryder), who sleeps with men then offs them. Somehow these two fates are intetwrined, and we'll find out how in the end.

It all sounds better on paper than it really is, as Sex and Death 101 soon devolves into the adolescent fantasy that any movie based on a guy sleeping with 101 girls inevitably becomes. It all plays out like an excuse for Waters to put his pecadilloes on film (which, in a making-of documentary, he basically admits).

Maybe the biggest problem is that it's just not possible to feel sorry for the poor, poor hero, who stumbles through encounter after encounter with beautiful women, then discards them and crosses them off his list. The whole Death Nell subplot is underdone, and the whole affair just feels kind of slapped together with tape and spit. Waters' ham-fisted naming of his characters -- there's a pair of lesbians named Miss Kidd and Miss Wint -- is about as erudite as the movie gets, and the monologues near the truly odd ending make you wonder whether Waters had an extreme fever when he was finishing up the script. If I didn't know better, I'd wonder if this exercise in perversion hadn't been made by another Waters. John, I mean.

That said, it's always fun to see Winona Ryder in a movie again.

The DVD includes commentary from Waters and a making-of featurette.

You get my meaning.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , Lizzie Friedman,


Comments

Sex and Death 101 Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2008

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