|The Opposite of Sex|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Don Roos|
|Written by||Don Roos|
|Music by||Mason Daring|
|Edited by||David Codron|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Box office||$6.4 million|
The Opposite of Sex is a 1998 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Don Roos, and starring Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan and Lisa Kudrow. It marked the final film produced by Rysher Entertainment.
Sixteen-year-old Dedee Truitt (Christina Ricci) runs away from home. She is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, Randy Cates (William Lee Scott). Not revealing her pregnancy, Dedee eventually moves in with her much older half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan), a gay teacher in a conservative, suburban community in Saint Joseph County, Indiana.
Although he is living with Matt (Ivan Sergei), Bill still mourns the loss of his previous partner, Tom, who died of AIDS some time ago. Bill maintains a friendship with Tom's younger sister, Lucia (Lisa Kudrow), who idolized her brother.
Dedee seduces Matt, then tricks him into believing he has impregnated her. They elope, leaving Bill and Lucia to track them down.
Bill and Lucia find Dedee and Matt in Los Angeles, only to discover Dedee has stolen Tom's ashes and is holding them for ransom. Randy also finds Dedee; they inform Matt that they are taking the ashes and moving away. They escape but soon get into an argument that leads to Dedee accidentally shooting Randy. She and Matt escape to Canada.
Lucia and Bill have a falling out after Lucia implies that Tom died as a result of having gay sex. Despondent, Lucia has a one-night stand with Sheriff Carl Tippett (Lyle Lovett) who had previously made unsuccessful romantic overtures to her. Lucia later discovers that she is pregnant.
Bill eventually tracks down Matt and Dedee. Dedee goes into labor and Bill accompanies her into the delivery room. After giving birth to her son, Dedee returns Tom's ashes to Bill, apologizing for her actions in the past year.
Dedee ends up serving time in prison, leaving her son in Bill's care while she's incarcerated. After a few months, she moves back in with Bill, while Matt goes traveling, and Lucia gives birth to her own child. Eventually, Dedee decides that her son would be better off with Bill, who is now dating Dedee's parole officer, and runs away.
Dedee sarcastically concludes that sex is precisely the opposite of what people should want, leading as it does to kids, disease or, worst of all, relationships. At the end of the film, the vignettes of the various caring relationships among the characters show the opposite of superficial sexual gratification.
The Opposite of Sex was shot from June 1997 to July 1997 in Los Angeles, California. It would end up being the last theatrical work produced by Rysher Entertainment, who shut down their film unit the same month that shooting wrapped. Sony's arthouse division Sony Pictures Classics distributed the film.
For its North American run, The Opposite of Sex took in film rentals of $5,881,367. The opening weekend saw a per screen average of $20,477 for the 5 theaters showing it.
Janet Maslin in The New York Times called it a "gleefully acerbic comedy". Christina Ricci's performance was widely praised, and she also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy. Roger Ebert especially enjoyed the voice-over narration supplied in-character by Ricci, calling it "refreshing" and comparing it to Mystery Science Theater 3000:
When you've seen enough movies, alas, you can sense the gears laboriously turning, and you know with a sinking heart that there will be no surprises. The Dede character subverts those expectations; she shoots the legs out from under the movie with perfectly timed zingers. I hate people who talk during movies, but if she were sitting behind me in the theater, saying all of this stuff, I'd want her to keep right on talking.
Overall, the film scored an 80% on the Rotten Tomatoes site.
American Film Institute recognition:
The film was criticized by Judith Kegan Gardiner in the book Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory, describing The Opposite of Sex as representative of a "fairly repulsive genre of films" that feature a "heterosexual conversion narrative" that is "set in motion by the desire of a heterosexual person for a seemingly unattainable gay person."