Love & Sex

Winning performances by Famke Janssen and Jon Favreau and loads of high-spirited sex talk sell "Love & Sex," an ultra-mainstream indie that plays like a low-budget and somewhat dirty Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts movie. Pitched squarely at young femme audiences, this romantic comedy has a good shot at the date crowd.

With:
Kate Welles - Famke Janssen Adam Levy - Jon Favreau Eric - Noah Emmerich Ms. Steinbacher - Ann Magnuson Mary - Cheri Oteri Joey Santino - Josh Hopkins Gerard - Robert Knepper Richard - Vincent Ventresca

Winning performances by Famke Janssen and Jon Favreau and loads of high-spirited sex talk sell “Love & Sex,” an ultra-mainstream indie that plays like a low-budget and somewhat dirty Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts movie. Pitched squarely at young femme audiences, this romantic comedy has a good shot at the date crowd if it’s sold for what it is, a general-audience crowd-pleaser, rather than as something a little different for specialized audiences, which it decidedly is not.

Valerie Breiman’s exceedingly slick feature is one of those cutesy items in which the characters talk about nothing but relationships and themselves.

As a calculating hook, pic opens with a nifty little childhood reminiscence about the pain of first love, backgrounded by the lissome Kate’s (Janssen) almost getting fired from her job at a women’s magazine for submitting a too-personal article about giving oral sex.

For some reason, being asked to rewrite the piece sets her musing about her past involvements with men, particularly her most serious one, with painter Adam (Favreau). One of those guys who’s become a fast and funny talker to compensate for his rather uncouth looks, Adam proves a lively companion, and script charts their romance through the initial spark, moving in together, a surprise pregnancy and eventual breakup, which stems from his feeling that they’ve started behaving like an old married couple.

Second half of the rapidly paced short picture sends Kate out on a dating spree as she tries to cope with her unexpected rejection by a man who almost certainly loves her but hasn’t quite come to terms with it yet. This section is far too dependent upon repetitive and broadly played scenes of the two constantly running into each other while on dates with other partners, with Kate, in particular, behaving foolishly in order to make Adam jealous.

A bit later, she drives her ex nuts by going out with one of Adam’s favorite actors, the shallow but good-looking video action star Joey Santino (Josh Hopkins), who’s given to doing bad Robert De Niro imitations and who can’t comprehend Kate’s tendency to go into self-pitying funks while watching Murnau’s “Nosferatu.”

With Kate obviously unsatisfied by any of the bland guys she meets and Adam increasingly obsessed with what Kate might be doing at any given moment, the happy ending comes as little surprise.

Pic will work for audiences because the dialogue touches frankly upon nothing but recognizable situations that most people have experienced and can relate to in the dating/relationship/sex/jealousy arena, even if it does so in a highly calculated and single-minded way that excludes any feel for other aspects of life.

Although the towering Janssen and the bulky Favreau make a somewhat unlikely looking couple, the two thesps deliver with high-energy, spirited performances that are always engaging, with the momentary exceptions of when Favreau is asked to deliver too much nudgy Woody Allenesque dialogue.

More than ever, Janssen shows that she has the goods to become a mainstream-appeal actress. Supporting players are perky, sexy and snappy as required, with an unbilled David Schwimmer in for a quite funny cameo as a young man Kate mistakes for a blind date.

Adam Kane’s high-gloss lensing makes everything look exceedingly bright and pretty, and score, as would be expected, is packed with pop tunes.

Love & Sex

Production: A Behaviour Worldwide presentation of a Bogart/Barab/Wyman production. Produced by Timothy Scott Bogart, Martin J. Barab, Brad Wyman. Executive producer, Mark Damon. Directed, written by Valerie Breiman.

Crew: Camera (FotoKem color), Adam Kane; editor, Martin Applebaum; production designer, Sara Sprawls; set decorator, Nancy Clements; costume designer, Sara Jane Slotnick; sound (Dolby), Matt Nicolay; line producer, Michelle Ledoux; assistant director, Jonathan Southard; second unit camera, Irv Goodnoff; casting, Dan Shaner, Michael Testa. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 24, 2000. Running time: 80 MIN.

With: Kate Welles - Famke Janssen Adam Levy - Jon Favreau Eric - Noah Emmerich Ms. Steinbacher - Ann Magnuson Mary - Cheri Oteri Joey Santino - Josh Hopkins Gerard - Robert Knepper Richard - Vincent Ventresca

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