EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX* (*BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK) (1972)

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2 star | Dir: Woody Allen

“He was the first man to ever measure the sound waves produced by an erection.”

The most overtly sketchy of Allen’s early works, it’s something that fits in more on Comedy Central than a cinema screen. Unlike the rest of his work in this period, there is no loose plot to tie all the separate 10-15 minute jokes together. There isn’t even an attempt to conclude something from the title and chapter title sketches, which are taken in jest from the 1969 sex manual of little relevance by David Reubens. They exist on their own, in isolation, as vignettes would in any other sketch show. This approach works if the jokes within are funny, but Everything… has a dreadfully dated air to it. A Rabbii’s sexual fantasy being his wife eating a plate of pork at his feet still has some steam, and the final sketch outlining the anatomy of an ejaculation still feels ingenious for its time. But much of this becomes a feeble false start based on over 40 years of jokes about the same kind of things done with more immediacy, intelligence and consistency. For example, Josh Lawson’s 2014 anthology feature The Little Death explored similar ideas in a comically darker and more (but not hugely) effective way.

This is the second film in a row where the physical slapstick and visual gags has been the highlight of the onslaught of comedic aspects, which includes an astoundingly amusing 23 second Gene Wilder awkward pause. But tasteless jokes making light of “perversions” such as rape and child molestation touch a really sensitive bone, with Allen’s well known private troubles. I’m sure that it would shame Woody (and Regis Philbin, who utters these jokes)  to watch them now. The film as a whole shames Woody, proclaiming that “if I had to do it over, I would not do it again”.

Despite sex being arguable the most pervasive theme in Allen’s canon, this is as low brow and underdeveloped as Allen would thankfully get. But at least it’s memorable as being the first film to feature the famous ‘Woody Allen font’ and a well known jazz standard song combo in its titles and credits. Its strong commercial success at the box office (US Top 10 for the year) also cemented Allen as trusted name in cinema capable of attracting big bucks and big stars. These emerging trends were far from peaking.

Part of Woody Wednesday. Second Viewing.

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1 Comment

Filed under Reviews, Woody Wednesday

One response to “EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX* (*BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK) (1972)

  1. Pingback: SLEEPER (1973) | POPCORN SCORN

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