The Opposite of Sex

Dom Robinson reviews

The Opposite of Sex You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be offended.
Distributed by

Columbia TriStar

      Cover

    • Cat.no: CDR 96866
    • Cert: 18
    • Running time: 97 minutes
    • Year: 1998
    • Pressing: 1999
    • Region(s): 2, PAL
    • Chapters: 28 plus extras
    • Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (Dolby Surround)
    • Languages: English, German
    • Subtitles: 15 different languages available
    • Widescreen: 1.77:1 (16:9)
    • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
    • Macrovision: Yes
    • Disc Format: DVD 5
    • Price: £19.99
    • Extras : Scene index, Theatrical trailer, Filmographies, Director’s Commentary, Deleted Scenes.

    Director:

      Don Roos

Producers:

    David Kirkpatrick and Michael Besmen

Screenplay:

    Don Roos

Music:

    Mason Daring

Cast:

    Dedee Truitt: Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, Buffalo 66, Casper, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ice Storm, Mermaids)
    Bill Truitt: Martin Donovan (Amateur, Hollow Reed, Living Out Loud, Malcolm X, The Portrait of a Lady, Trust)
    Lucia Delury: Lisa Kudrow (Clockwatchers, Mother, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, TV: Friends)
    Sheriff Carl Tippett: Lyle Lovett (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Player, Pret-a-Porter, Short Cuts)
    Matt Mateo: Ivan Sergei (Gunfighter’s Moon, If Someone Had Known, Violent Tradition)


The Opposite of Sex is a low-budget $5 million road movie starring Christina Ricci all grown up as 16-year-old peroxide-blonde wild-child Dedee Truitt, breaking free of her mother’s constraints after her step-father is laid to rest. She travels to live with her half-brother Bill (Hal Hartley favourite, Martin Donovan), a gay teacher in a local school who she hasn’t seen in an age. He’s still getting over the death of his partner Tom (Colin Ferguson, who we see in flashbacks), but is now living with Matt (Ivan Sergei) and has been doing for nearly a year. Still interrupting the proceedings is Tom’s sister Lucia (Lisa Kudrow) who works with Bill and doesn’t have a life of her own so constantly needs to cling onto his. She’s still a virgin, having had constant put-downs from her two (ugly?) sisters early on in life.

As soon as Dedee arrives at Bill’s house, she makes a play for Matt and becomes pregnant, but does the child belong to him, her late step-father or a punk kid called Randy (William Lee Scott) ? Matt and Dedee take off with all of Bill’s savings and then Bill gets another surprise as one of his old pupils and another of Matt’s lovers, Jason (Johnny Galecki), turns up allegeding an assault charge on Bill, causing him to be suspended from school.

So, it all sounds a bit complex as the storylines entwine, but there’s a running commentary on the proceedings from Dedee. Ricci has clearly come of age in this role as can be seen from the shot on the front cover and looks good throughout most of the film. Kudrow plays as a brunette in this film, but occasionally has her “Phoebe” moments, for any Friends fans watching. Sergei plays his part as Matt just as spaced-out as you’d expect someone like Benecio Del Toro to play a role and there are bland performances from Donovan and musician Lyle Lovett, who co-starred with Ricci in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as the local Sheriff.


The picture seems to escape any artifact problems, but has a level of grain that mars the film throughout. It doesn’t make it completely unwatchable, but a little more effort could have improved matters greatly. The film is presented in 16:9 (1.77:1) which is close to its original widescreen ratio of 1.85:1 which is what the back of the box claims. It is enhanced for 16:9 widescreen televisions – thus allowing for 33% higher resolution – and the average bitrate is a fine 5.3 Mb/s, peaking occasionally at close to 10Mb/s.

The Dolby Surround sound is fine, but doesn’t ignite your speakers with a forgettable soundtrack. See later on in the review for the reason why we’re not being denied a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as it appears from the back cover.


Extras :

Chapters/Theatrical Trailers : There are 28 chapters, like most Columbia releases, spread throughout the 97 mins of the film, which covers most of the major scenes, the last one bringing together finale and the end credits. The original theatrical trailer is included.

Languages/Subtitles : There’s two languages on the disc, English and German, both available in Dolby Digital 2.0 (Dolby Surround). There’s been an outcry made on the internet about the fact that the back cover states English is DD2.0 while the Germans get their language in a full-on 5.1 discrete mix, but no such soundtrack was ever created so we are not losing out. Whoever compiled the information on the back has a bit of explaining to do.

As for subtitles? Take your pick from the following FIFTEEN languages : English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, German, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian and Dutch.

Filmographies : Brief filmographies are available for Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan, Lisa Kudrow and Lyle Lovett.

Other extras : – Director’s Commentary: feature-length chat from not only director Don Roos, but also co-producer Michael Besman and editor David Codron.
Deleted scenes: Five scenes, lasting no more than 2-3 minutes apiece, which were taken out of the final cut, although a couple of them would have worked better placed back in the film, such as “Dedee explains it all to Matt”. Subtitles are available for these extras, but, bizarrely, only in German and Dutch (!)

Menu : The menu is static and silent with a picture of Ricci adorning your television.


Overall, The Opposite of Sex is more like the opposite of entertainment. The basis of the story has potential since there’s a lot going on, but the casting could have been improved – keep Ricci and Kudrow and change the rest – and the direction allows the story to plod along to the point where you couldn’t care less what happens to the characters. Unlike the film’s tagline, I rarely laughed, I didn’t cry and I was only offended at not being able to claw back the 97 minutes of lost time.

If you haven’t seen the film before, I’d advise you to rent before you buy, but in either case, you can rest assured you’re getting all the extras that the Americans get.

FILM : * PICTURE QUALITY: ***½ SOUND QUALITY: *** EXTRAS: ***½ ——————————- OVERALL: **½

Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 1999.

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Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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