“Let’s talk about sex” exhorts “Kinsey’s” tagline, and talk indeed the double disc does, almost to the point of exhaustion. Extras delve into Alfred Kinsey’s pioneering sex research and production hurdles in a mostly sober-minded manner leavened by frisky sidebars about the cast and crew’s own sexual histories. One can only imagine what fun filmmakers might have had if they really cut loose without fear of further inflaming critics of Kinsey and the movie. As it is, there’s plenty to intrigue the open-minded and outrage his foes.
Best of the bonus bunch: the extremely handsome “The Kinsey Report: Sex on Film” docu, which could stand on its own. Wittily organized into Kinsey’s own stages of sex — stimulation, lubrication, erection, increased sensitivity, orgasm and nervous release — the docu wraps black and white footage of “Kinsey” cast and crew gamely answering sex history questions around different stages of the production. This gambit, inspired by a similar device in the film, gooses the serious discourse, adding a playful undercurrent to the proceedings.
Thus we have Laura Linney disclosing that she first became aware of sex, when she “saw two people screwing in a car” in Manhattan, and writer-director Bill Condon confessing that his first sex partner was a red vinyl bolster on his childhood bed.
Condon and producer Gail Mutrux, who first conceived of the pic while working on “Quiz Show,” make it clear they always knew controversy was in the cards. “There is no doubt when you take this subject there is controversy right down the road,” Condon says.
Indeed, controversy reared its head upon an early announcement in Variety. Mutrux says Kinsey critics immediately went on “The O’Reilly Factor” bashing Kinsey as a warning to the filmmakers and star Liam Neeson, even sending letters to Neeson’s mother in Ireland. They also tried to take a trade ad bashing Kinsey (which Condon credits Variety for not running), only to have Laura Schlessinger lambaste Hollywood’s conspiracy on this “sicko flicko.”
The filmmakers also outline the ways they trimmed costs to meet the lower-than-planned budget, mostly by cutting days from the New York shoot, which took advantage of the stage actors nearby for many of the small speaking roles. Even with these trims, Condon ran out of money at the end, so finagled Fox to let them shoot a teaser. “We shot that in two hours, then used the rest of the time to finish the rest of the movie,” he says, adding, “I probably shouldn’t be telling this.”
The docu takes the production through the premiere and limited release after the election, which, Condon says, changed how viewers responded to the pic, which had already been on heavy fest rotation: post election, the focus on cultural wars somehow made the pic seem even more relevant than before.
Condon relates much of the same information in his commentary as the docu; viewing both is redundant with a few sly exceptions (“I will never have a better placed title credit,” he says as the image of a masturbating young Kinsey comes into focus). Additional bonus features include a tour of the “Sex Ed” exhibit at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana, historic dildos and all, plus deleted scenes, mostly cut to keep the plot moving, and a short gag reel.