Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Simon Baker, Winona Ryder, Robert Wisdom, Tanc Sade, Patton Oswalt, Mindy Cohn, Sophie Monk, Julie Bowen, Neil Flynn, Corinne Reilly, Jessica Kiper, Candice Coke, Natassia Malte, Pollyanna McIntosh, Leslie Bibb, Nicole Bilderback, Frances Fisher
Written by: Daniel Waters
Directed by: Daniel Waters
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and language
Running Time: 117
Date: 06/15/2007
IMDB

Sex and Death 101 (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

List Opportunity

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This second feature from writer/director Daniel Waters (Heathers, Happy Campers, etc.) had a brief theatrical opening before this new DVD release, and critics reacted to it precisely as critics throughout time have reacted to American movies about sex: they hated it. Admittedly, it doesn't have many belly laughs, but if you're tuned into Waters' peculiar, highly intelligent comedy style it's a fascinating watch. Simon Baker (Land of the Dead) stars as Roderick Blank, a handsome but likeable guy who works for an upscale fast food corporation. On the eve of his wedding, he receives a mysterious list that includes the names of all the girls he's ever slept with, in order. The odd thing is that it continues well after the name of his fiancée, on up to #101. At first he realizes that he can easily score just by picking up the next girl on the list, but complications soon arise. As in Groundhog Day, Waters explores many different scenarios within his limited premise, but one of the best occurs when Roderick falls for a girl whose name does not appear on his list. The catch in all this is that the last name on the list turns out to be "Death Nell" (Winona Ryder), a kind of psychopathic maniac who sends her gentlemen callers into comas. Waters introduces a reason for the list in the form of a supercomputer, monitored by a trio called Alpha (Robert Wisdom), Beta (Tanc Sade) and Fred (Patton Oswalt), but he thankfully doesn't go into much detail and Oswalt gets the biggest laughs in the movie. At 117 minutes, the film runs a bit too long but it's definitely worth a look. The superhot Sophie Monk -- originally cast as a Brigitte Bardot lookalike -- plays one of Roderick's first experiments, and Mindy Cohn (from TV's "The Facts of Life") gives a terrific comic performance as Roderick's no-nonsense secretary.

DVD Details: Waters provides one of the best commentary tracks I've heard in ages: within the first ten minutes, he has already chattered his way through dozens of movie references and practically apologizes for making the film. He claims that he'd rather watch movies than make them, but since no one is making anything worth watching, he decided to go to work. Anchor Bay's DVD also has a featurette and a trailer.