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10 Sex Comedies To Watch If Your Summer Went As Poorly As Mine

I'm very bad at having fun. Experiencing joy is not one of my strongest traits. But I do know how to cheer myself up - watching a movie. Now, the main reason I chose to make a list of sex comedies is because it's a sub-genre that far too many people hate. And I get it. I wrote a whole post about the mess of the traditional sex comedy. But I get a lot of comfort from them, mainly because I struggle to talk about sex myself so when a piece of art is very candid about it, I get very invested. I like sex comedies in particular because they hinge on you not taking them seriously. On laughing at the messy moments of sexuality and at yourself for taking it all so seriously.

I didn't have a good summer if I'm being honest, for a variety of reasons. Having depression is hard. Being queer in an increasingly antagonistic country is hard. Change, most of all, is very hard for me. So, in moments of stress, I watch movies and I make lists. 

The Sessions (2012, directed by Ben Lewin)

This film follows the true story of Mark O'Brien, a man confined to an iron lung trying to explore his sexuality with a sex surrogate whilst also reckoning with his Catholic guilt about this exploration. The director, who also made Please Stand By (2017), seems to be interested with the inner world of disabled people, and sex and disability is a topic long overdue for a candid depiction, as disabled people are rarely given the agency (both on screen and in real life) to even be seen as people who desire and enjoy having sex.

Streaming on Disney+

A Dirty Shame (2004, John Waters)

In typical John Waters fashion, A Dirty Shame pulls no punches and refuses to be civil about regressive ideas about sex. Tracey Ullman plays a woman, irritated and repressed by her life as a wife and mother, who gets hit on the head and ends up becoming addicted to receiving cunnilingus and teams up with Johnny Knoxville to find the world's greatest orgasm. The portrayal of queerness and taboo sexuality is bombastic and its satire of puritanical parents who view any expression of sexuality as a sin is hilarious and unfortunately timeless.

Streaming on Netflix in Australia and New Zealand (*cough* use a VPN *cough*)

Mary Jane's Not A Virgin Anymore (1996, directed by Sarah Jacobson)

In her unfortunately short career, Sarah Jacobson only directed one feature film and it happened to be an incredibly radical portrayal of the politics around female sexuality and virginity, deliberately spitting in the face of the romanticised idea of the perfect sexual encounter. It follows our titular character as she asks her friends and co-workers about their sexual experiences, and measures them against to her own disastrous sexual awakening at the beginning of the film. It touches on many different topics including queerness, sexual assault, masturbation and pregnancy in a way that manages to not feel didactic through its guerrilla style filmmaking. Truly unique and desperate for UK release so I can own it on blu-ray (hint hint).

Maybe you can watch it here...

Live Nude Girls (1995, directed by Julianna Lavin)

This is a film that no one has seen and that I believe is confined to VHS, which is a shame because when I watched it, I realised it was the film that I'd been looking for. It's basically a film of women hanging out talking about sex. Off the back of Sex and The City and reminiscent of films like Steel Magnolias (1989) and Waiting to Exhale (1995), albeit more low-budget, it manages to feel like a very human expression of desire, heavily influenced by 90s feminism and the continuous need for women on screen to just exist. It is heinous that the director of this film has no other directing credits outside of this and that this film is close to being forgotten to history. I will be the singular person to commemorate it and insist that others watch it too.

Down With Love (2003, directed by Peyton Reed)

Down With Love is a treat in every sense of the word and I maintain that it is a sex comedy as well as an excellent pastiche of 60s screwball rom coms. Dynamic and tongue-in-cheek, it follows a womanizer trying to seduce and undermine a pesky feminist insisting that women forgo love and romance, and instead pursue sex, insisting that it's as fulfilling for women as it is for men. What ensues can only be described as 'hijinks', with hidden identities, manipulation and two people finding out that they might actually be perfect for each other.

Streaming on Disney+ and PlutoTV

How to Please a Woman (2021, directed by RenĂ©e Webster) 

With the veneer of a TV Movie, it might be easy to dismiss this as having nothing of value but I'm here to make my case - sometimes middle-aged women talking about what they want from sex is radical because people rarely ask them their opinions. With a similar plot and attitude towards sex work to Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (2022), we follow a woman who starts up an all-male cleaning crew who end up sleeping with their clients, beginning a fruitful business in bringing pleasure to their small community and creating some scandal in the process. Like the former film, it has a somewhat antiquated attitude towards sex and seems to eschew the perspectives of the men in this film to foreground the pleasure of their clients. It's sticky in my opinion and not perfect in the conclusions it comes to but if you are going to watch a film called How To Please A Woman, the pleasing of women may, in fact, occur. 

Zola (2020, directed by Janicza Bravo)

Zola made a splash because it's based on a Twitter thread of a woman's experiences with her 'friend' as they go deeper into the world of sex work and encounter increasingly more sinister characters. Having changed hands multiple times when in production, Janicza Bravo ended up imbuing the story with a biting commentary on interracial friendships and what it means to be passive in a situation that's becoming more and more dangerous. I do have to mention that despite this synopsis, this is a funny film that repeatedly maintains its tension without depriving the audience of the knowledge that this is in fact a really weird story to have actually happened.

Streaming on Netflix in Greece, Iceland and Canada

Love and Leashes (2022, directed by Park Hyun-jin)

Netflix has a track record for shoving out an excessive amount of media with the intent of making the most amount of money endlessly until the end of time. Of course, this is a terrible model and upward growth forever is not something that is ever going to be feasible. As a result, we have far too much to watch from them and hardly any way of discerning quality. I wanted to highlight this film because it's one of those that has probably been buried by the algorithm of Netflix and further alienated audience by being (gasp) not being in English. Still, I think this is one of the most empathetic and generous portrayals of a dominant/submissive relationship whilst managing to not feel didactic or accusatory. It follows two colleagues as the enter into this relationship and try to negotiate the line between romantic desire and pleasure. With the discourse surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey and BDSM that seemed to dominant culture for a hot second, I think trying to portray any kind of conflict within these relationships can be testy but I do think that this film has kindness at the heart of it and it does this whilst managing to be sexy at the same time.

Streaming on Netflix

Magic Mike XXL (2015, directed by Gregory Jacobs)

Don't underestimate the Magic Mike franchise. Whilst the films either side of this ones aren't as strong in my opinion, XXL is top tier. It follows a group of male strippers as they travel across the US to attend a stripper convention and meet a series of people along the way who teach them that their work is important. Moreover, this film is so much fun and much kinder than it needed to be. It may be a case of lightning in a bottle because the other two film were never able to replicate this but thankfully, this is a film that can be watched on its own, wine-drunk, with a group of friends, preparing for the last 25 minutes which are, and I cannot stress this enough, truly transcendent.

Streaming on Prime, Netflix in Japan and Tubi TV in the US

The Sweetest Thing (2002, directed by Roger Kumble)

Cameron Diaz is a treasure and whilst I respect her decision to retire from acting, I miss her terribly as a comedic 'it' girl. This film is very silly and despite this, all of the actors commit very seriously to the part of being three dirtbag, horny ladies looking to track down the man that Christina (Diaz) is in love with. What ensues is classic in terms of the bawdy comedy, with gross-out, immature humour, allowing the three leads to be both in and out of control of their lives in a way that manages to be absurd and very human.

Streaming on Netflix in the US and Canada


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