I will never look at a cantaloupe quite the same way again after watching Sean Garrity’s surprisingly touching sex comedy, My Awkward Sexual Adventure, which will vie for Whistler Film Festival’s top prize this year.
Garrity teams up with his regular collaborator; Canadian film and TV vet Jonas Chernick (The Border, Lucid), who wrote and stars in the film as Jordan, a nervous Winnipeg accountant who gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend after one too many unsatisfying romps in the sack.
He sets off for Toronto on a 10-day trip with the futile hope of making her jealous and ultimately winning her back, where he seeks the sage wisdom of his old friend Dandak, a big city playboy that exudes ineffable charm thanks to Indo-Canadian actor Vik Sahay (Chuck).
With Jordan nursing a fresh wound over his breakup and an extreme inability to form a coherent sentence while in the presence of the opposite sex, he goes where all men in his situation would: the strip club.
There, drunk on whiskey and the sorrow of unrequited love, Jordan passes out in a heap of garbage behind the club where he’s eventually found by Julia, a stripper who reluctantly puts him up in her condo for the night so he can sleep off his epic bender.
It’s here that the seeds of their mutually beneficial relationship are sewn: Jordan will get some much needed sexual advice from the seemingly uninhibited Julia, and she will, in turn, get the nerdly accountant’s help in getting out of thousands of dollars in debt she’s racked up for herself.
Julia, played by the lovely Emily Hampshire (Cosmopolis) is My Awkward Sexual Adventure’s real treat. Instead of playing her character with the standard amount of ribaldry found in other, lesser sex comedies, she lends the role a subtle vulnerability that makes her seem more honest and self-assured in her sexuality than the majority of her female Hollywood counterparts.
The affection Chernick shows her character in his script shines throughout every scene they share, and that dynamic — one that grew on me as the film wore on — drives the whole narrative forward.
Considering it’s been optioned for both a French and Korean remake, it’s clear that My Awkward Sexual Adventure has a broad appeal. While Canadians will recognize a snowy Winnipeg suburb here or a cramped Spadina street car there, the film was certainly intended to appeal to a wider audience; an achievement it manages to pull off because of the respect it affords its subject matter.
While most mainstream comedies use sex for no more than a cheap sight gag (and there are a few of those moments in the film, including a belly-laugh inducing sequence at a massage parlour), My Awkward Sexual Adventure takes a more genuine, heartfelt approach to the raunch, often with hilarious and at times, sexy results.
The finished product is a refreshingly raw and genuinely funny look at the foibles of our own sexuality in all of its beautiful, frustrating — and yes, awkward — glory.
You may not walk out of the theatre with an altered perspective on cantaloupes like I did, but you will definitely think a little differently about the constant stream of vapid Hollywood sex comedies that keep getting churned out year after year.
The film plays twice at the Whistler Film Festival: next Thursday (Nov. 29) at 8 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre and next Sunday (Dec. 2) at 5:30 p.m. at the Rainbow Theatre.