This week’s romantic comedy entries are sitting ducks, titularly speaking: Better Than Sex isn’t, while the truly painful Ouch! underestimates viewer agony considerably. The former, more palatable for at least being comprehensible, tracks the 72-hour, no-strings-attached affair between dressmaker Cin (Susie Porter) and wildlife lensman Josh (David Wenham), who’s due to leave their nameless Australian city for his home in London. The unapologetically promiscuous duo goes from lust to love, with a recurring, seen-it-all cabbie in the Cupid role (” ‘Ere we go again,” says the heartwarming codger). Clothing is optional, but interior monologues are not. Men, muses Cin, are like “wild animals roaming some prehistoric landscape.” “There’s something really exciting when you click with someone,” opines Josh. As Bridget Jones sez, “Gaaah!”
Despite the wall-to-wall shagging in Cin’s loft (under the shadow of a wedding gown, no less), this Three Days of the Condom is less Last Tango in Sydney than When Harry Met Sally, with its freeze-dried riffs on vive la différence (women take longer to dress than men, men always leave the toilet seat up) and earnest faux-interview scenes. Director-writer Jonathan Teplitzky appears to have cribbed from Cosmopolitan circa 1985; a pirated Sex and the City DVD, smuggled past stringent antipodean customs officers, would probably bowl him over completely.
If nothing else, Sophie Fillières’s Ouch! is a secret pop culture index. It unwittingly recalls the Rutles’ deconstruction of “Help!”, epitomizes Matt Groening’s eternal axiom on French sex comedies (viz., the French, sex, and comedies are funny, yet no French sex comedies are funny), and shoehorns some eleventh-hour science fiction for bad measure. Fiftysomething horndog Robert hits on a model half his age (named Ouch), who abruptly proposes to fall in love with him, a setup even Woody Allen might find unrealistic. Turned off by her bulimia, Robert hedges on intimacy; meanwhile, Ouch inscrutably contacts Robert’s ex, a translator who has just given birth to a child by a boyfriend who is seeing Robert’s sister on the side—a self-parodying Gallic ménage. Sans insight or wit, the film belatedly seeks to explain all by playing the space card: Ouch, née Yocnor, hails from the planet Arachnoid, which will destroy Earth in the 24th century. The last word should go to Heidegger, for whom Ouch’s father and Robert confess a fondness: “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2001