The film version of Portnoy’s Complaint is not trashy, tawdry, cheap, offensively vulgar, and pruriently titillating. Instead, it is a most effective, honest in context, necessarily strong and appropriately bawdy study in ruinous self-indulgence.
Besides adapting the Philip Roth novel into a lucid, balanced and moral screenplay, and producing handsomely on various locations, Ernest Lehman makes an excellent directorial debut. Richard Benjamin heads an outstanding cast.
Alexander Portnoy’s hangup derives from heterosexual masturbation fantasies, and the first 44 minutes constitute the slap-happy, kinky exposition of his development. But what the story then pulls an audience into is the inevitable consequence.