Daniel Waters reunites with his Heathers star Winona Ryder for Sex and Death 101, yet any hope for similar genre-tweaking black comedy is negated by a tale that struggles mightily to stay on track for even the first of its two hours. Out of the blue, corporate fast-food exec Roderick (Simon Baker) is emailed a list that contains the names of the 101 people he has, or will in the future, sleep with. The document quickly destroys his impending engagement, leading Roderick on a quest of sexual conquest with all sorts of hotties—the apex being a lesbian couple, from an Internet reality show, dolled up in fairy costumes—that makes his friends jealous but soon proves less than fulfilling. Baker laces his character’s hunky smarminess with relatable aggravation, and Waters generates a few laughs from humorous asides and lewd one-liners (usually out of the mouth of Patton Oswalt) during scenes otherwise too predictable by half. Unfortunately, as it not only details Roderick’s wild carnal adventures but also pokes fun at married life and indulges in a subplot involving a serial killer named Death Nell (Ryder) who preys upon chauvinists, Sex and Death 101 vainly rambles about in search of both a tight central narrative thread and an overarching point. Waters is unable to make any noteworthy or persuasive observations about the intricate links between love, romance, “porking,” and the “pursuit of the chase.” More surprising, however, is that he isn’t even able to coherently express the more conservative, mundane lesson that sex without love is meaningless. Roderick’s bedroom exploits become increasingly unpleasant (a homeless woman! A midget! A dude!) and so, too, does the overly long story, which drags mightily during Roderick’s platonic relationship with a veterinarian (Leslie Bibb) as well as peculiar Sleeper-style sci-fi sequences featuring three gray-suited mystery men who work out of a white room housing an “Oracle-esque” machine that produced the list. It’s nice to see The Facts of Life‘s Mindy Cohen working again, but crawling along in clunky, directionless fashion, Waters’s pseudo-rom-com ultimately dies a slow death.
- Anchor Bay Entertainment
- 116 min
- Daniel Waters
- Daniel Waters
- Simon Baker, Winona Ryder, Leslie Bibb, Julie Bowen, Frances Fisher, Robert Wisdom, Tanc Sade, Patton Oswalt, Mindy Cohn, Dash Mihok, Neil Flynn
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