The Opposite of Sex

* * * 1/2*

At first glance, The Opposite of Sex may seem to be merely a standard dysfunctional-family comedy. However, with a handful of excellent performances and a very witty screenplay make this one rise above the crowd.

DeDee Truitt (Christina Ricci) is the film's narrator, and isn't ashamed of the fact that she's not a very nice person. At the age of sixteen, after her stepfather's death, she runs away from home to move in with her half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan). She's uninvited, but DeDee always gets what she wants...one way or another.

Bill is a gay high school teacher, rich from the inheritance of a former lover. His current boyfriend is Matt Mateo (Ivan Sergei), a brainless dolt whom DeDee immediately tries to seduce. Within days, Bill's entire life is reduced to shambles.

Among the people who get caught in DeDee's wake are Lucia (Lisa Kudrow), the bitter sister of Bill's dead former lover, and Carl (Lyle Lovett), the kindly local sheriff who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

But the black twisted heart of the story is DeDee. Her sharp and witty narration is worth the price of admission alone. She knows she's in a movie and tweaks filmmaking conventions in a way other "self-referential" films (such as Scream) never dared. Her choice comments are biting and cruel, but hilarious.

Christina Ricci has finally found a role she can sink her teeth into. She has finally risen out of her mediocre phase in films such as Casper or That Darn Cat, and here shows the talent that was evident in the Addams Family films.

She's backed up by a talented supporting cast. Surprisingly, the strongest secondary character her is the against-type Lisa Kudrow. Only Martin Donovan falters a bit, but that is because his gay character is the straight man in the film.

Screenwriter Don Roos makes his directorial debut with this film, which also happens to feature his best script. He takes a few chances with his direction, and, for the most part, they are successful.

The Opposite of Sex is not a fall-down funny comedy, but it's full of moments which will bring a wicked little smile to your face.

[R] (Sony Classics)


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