When you hear the title Relax…It's Just Sex and get a load of the huge cast, I'll bet you're thinking this is going to be a modern take on Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*But Were Afraid to Ask, or at least a sexy Gen-X comedy. If so, you're about to be sorely disappointed.
The opening moments of this movie really set you up for something you don't get. A funny black and white intro with a 50s educational film feel acts as a lesson in gay and lesbian sex—so that those repulsed by such joys will know to leave the theater immediately. And even the first scene of the movie after that is promising. I mean, you see two guys completely naked and having some major intercourse—which turns into a witty commentary on spitting vs. swallowing.
From there we meet a group of friends, gay, lesbian, and heterosexual, who all have their issues. ALL of them. There isn't one person in this movie with his or her head on straight. So much for a "supporting" role. Here's the rundown. Tara (Jennifer Tilly) wants to have a baby, and is constantly forcing her boyfriend, Gus (Timothy Paul Perez) to have sex. Gus's brother Javi (Eddie Garcia) has just learned he's HIV positive. Playwright Vincey (Mitchell Anderson) is desperately looking for love, and thinks he's found it in Buzz (Terrence TC Carson), a black artist he brings to the party at which Javi announces his positive status…but Buzz turns out to be interested in Javi instead—and Buzz is a militant black man who believes AIDS doesn't exist, that it's a big conspiracy. Sarina (Cynda Williams) learns her girlfriend Megan (Serena Scott Thomas) has just had an affair with a man, and leaves her. Quite swiftly, Sarina's butch friend Robin (Lori Petty—the standout performance in this film) moves in on her, and they begin a relationship, while Megan deals with her conservative parents, who are now actually pushing her to get back with Serena even though she's gone hetero as they'd originally hoped. Then there's the perfectly in love, preppy white gay couple Dwight (Gibbs Tolsdorf) & Diego (Chris Cleveland), who are on some sort of extremist religious crusade. Their most memorable moment in the film is their sweaty sex scene.
Sounds convoluted, huh? Well, it is, because none of these storylines ever really comes together, and you don't feel sympathy for any of these tragic characters. And I must warn you ahead of time, the only real attempt at humor is at the expense of serious subjects, so if you're sensitive, this is not the movie for you. AIDS is handled with little care, almost as if it was decided that it would be better to make a film about HIV that's not as much of a downer. Unfortunately, it comes across as insensitive instead. A gay bashing becomes the turning event for this whole "romantic comedy," and the unexpected outcome of it is the one defining moment for each character that changes his or her entire outlook on life. Oh, and then there's the heartbreak of conception and childbirth problems.
There is no blend between humor and drama here—they seem to clash at every opportunity. And, considering the title, you'd think sex would get a much better rap than it does in this movie. Instead, it pretty much turns into devastation for everyone who has it in this film. For example, a horribly violent scene is followed immediately by a montage of romantic sexual encounters…as if the two go hand-in-hand. And as if to justify this running theme throughout the film, the final narration makes a statement connecting sex, love and death. Now that's comedy. I can here you laughing already.
The movie has been converted in a full frame presentation. There are tears, specks and dust on the print, and at times, it's pretty bad. The flesh tones are good, but there isn't much clarity to the image, which tends to be too soft and blurry.
This dialogue driven film is presented in Dolby 2.0 mono, which gets the point across with no frills attached.
There are a couple of extras here:
TRAILERS—Two movie trailers for other TLA Releases.
DELETED SCENES—three full scenes deleted from the movie. Two focus on the relationship between Javi and Buzz, and one probably should not have been deleted, considering it deals with how Buzz, a man who believes AIDS is a conspiracy, is forced to discuss it with his HIV positive boyfriend. The real kick in the face is that these scenes are presented in their original widescreen format!
BLOOPERS—The clips aren't funny, and most of them are actually intentional adlibs instead of mistakes. But the cast looks like they got along well. These outtakes run about 8 minutes.
COMMENTARY—Producer Steven Wolf and stars Jennifer Tilly and Lori Petty offer the most entertaining part of this disc. Their commentary and stories are informative, smart, and funny.
Relax…It's Just Sex leads you to believe you're going to get a funny, sexy romantic comedy with a talented ensemble cast that looks at the dating game from just about every sexual orientation. Instead, you get an uncomplimentary mix of humor and drama that tackles depressing topics like HIV, gay bashing, and childbirth difficulties. And this DVD release offers a worn print in full frame, with a drab mono audio track and a couple of extras. The highlight of this disc was the commentary.