Sex hasn't really been a major factor in recent cinema, and onscreen breakfast has never been given its due, so something called "Sex and Breakfast" promises to fill the minimum daily requirements of both. However, what tyro helmer Miles Brandman serves up is a tortured talkfest with a premise far less ripe than its title.

Sex hasn’t really been a major factor in recent cinema (“Lust, Caution” being an exception), and onscreen breakfast has never been given its due, so something called “Sex and Breakfast” promises to fill the minimum daily requirements of both. However, what tyro helmer Miles Brandman serves up is a tortured talkfest with a premise far less ripe than its title. Limited theatrical play seems likely (pic opens Friday in Los Angeles), with cable broadcast the climax of the whole affair.

Recalling such ‘70s exploitation features as “The Harrad Experiment” (i.e., films that bend over backward to get attractive young people into sexual positions) “Sex and Breakfast” features two dysfunctional couples who are, from the moment the film begins, on their way to a communal bedroom.

Ellis (Kuno Becker) and Renee (Eliza Dushku) are so bored with each other they’ve taken to such antics as skydiving to alleviate the tedium. Meanwhile, James (Macaulay Culkin) and Heather (Alexis Dziena), suffer more of a physical malfunction in the boudoir, and are also trying to get out of their rut.

All four find themselves at a group sex-therapy session run by the benevolent and smiling Dr. Wellbridge (Joanna Miles), who prescribes couple-swapping as a way for paired-off people to get in touch with themselves (and others, apparently). The entire scenario is a bait-and-switch contrivance that will certainly be anathema to auds attracted to movies with titles like “Sex and Breakfast.” There’s a lot less sex (or bacon and eggs) than there is talk, lots of it, shot mostly in closeup.

The acting, however, is quite good. Heather is a self-absorbed princess made quite believable/unlikeable by Dziena; Renee is more down-to-earth, and the charming Dushku gives her an edge. This is especially true when she and Ellis (the charismatic Becker) connect with Betty (Jaime Ray Newman), a waitress and possible partner for Renee who sets Ellis’ teeth on edge.

Newman is terrific, and the entire Betty digression –like one involving James, Heather and Heather’s belligerent ex (Eric Lively) — relieves the tiresome talkiness and shows what might pic might have been. Culkin, whose adult career has been something of a struggle, is a good actor burdened by a somewhat androgynous look, which in fact fits James and his problem to a tee.

Production values are adequate.

Sex and Breakfast

Production

A First Look Studios release of a Brandman Prods. presentation of a CinemaLab production. Produced by Michael Brandman, Chip Diggins, Andrew Adelson. Executive producers, Steven Molasky, Steven Brandman. Co-producer, Joanna Miles. Directed, written by Miles Brandman.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Mark Schwartzbard; editor, Dana Shockley; music supervisor, Danny Exum; production designer, David Chapman; art director, Christine Reins; set decorator, Reins; costume designer, Elaine Montalvo; sound, Jennifer Ricciardi; supervising sound editor, Clancy Troutman; sound designer, Scott Westley; associate producer, Straw Weisman; casting, Mary Vernieu. Reviewed at American Film Market, Santa Monica, Nov. 2, 2007. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Macaulay Culkin, Kuno Becker, Eliza Dushku, Alexis Dziena, Joanna Miles, Eric Lively, Jaime Ray Newman.
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