Dr. Kinsey Set Off a Deafening Report; Dr. Sex, Aiming to Echo It, Proves Only a Mild Pop


Remember sex? Americans used to worry about it a lot. But that was before the Sexual Revolution , before Stonewall, before Mapplethorpe, before AIDS, before the Pentagon dreamed of providing online porn for soldiers overseas. Nowadays, Americans either actively try to suppress all mention of sex, or actively delve into every dripping detail of it by word, image, and deed. And the man who made our sex lives so open, the guy who pulled the loose thread on the buttoned-up coat of the American middle class’s repression by consensus, was Dr. Alfred P. Kinsey. Now that the coat has disintegrated, leaving us naked in our preferences before one another, sex has ceased to be the one thing you could count on it being before Kinsey: funny. But who can make sex jokes in a nation where
The Aristocrats is the year’s most chatted-up documentary?

The answer, apparently, is Larry Bortniker and Sally Deering. They’ve turned the life of Dr. Kinsey into a cute, preening cartoon, all double entendre and old-fashioned show-tune bounce. Kinsey’s life was apparently angst-ridden (as even people who think he looked like Liam Neeson are aware), and his book set off decades of reverberant social upheavals and scientific controversies, but Bortniker and Deering treat it all as adorable fun, in the joshing spirit of sketches in ’50s intimate revues. Bortniker’s lyrics are often ingenious, the cast is game (Jennifer Simard, despite her mushy diction, makes a particularly bright impression), and Mark Esposito’s old-style dance routines keep the silliness in inventive motion. But two hours is a long time to maintain a smirk.