Panned by critics as "not funny" and a money loser at the box office, THE OH IN OHIO
was an enjoyable watch for both my wife and I. Once again, we find ourselves 'at odds' with both the taste and sense of humor from mainstream critics.
The premise is simple: Priscilla (a favorite, Parker Posey) is unable to "fully enjoy" sexual relations with her husband; the two separate just as Priscilla is learning to, uh, find her own pleasure. Undaunted by his departure, Priscilla explores her inner liberation and seeks to define what she wants in her relationships.
I have grown quite peevish about people complaining about "nothing original" in movies, and "formulaic" movie making...ESPECIALLY in Romantic Comedies, then go on to blast a movie that dares to TRY something different. So what if the execution is "off" on some ways? Isn't the attempt to "create" worth looking past a few technical (or pompously identified) flaws?
This one broke the romantic comedy formulas and presented us with an interesting peek into Priscilla's life. Broken tropes include:
* We enter the story in the middle of the RomCom formula...the couple is already having their problems. We don't get the "meet cute" and the honeymoon period. The "split" is in the first act.
* We resolve "the split" completely out-of-formula; Priscilla's husband made certain decisions in the first act, and those decisions have a 'real life' consequence. It's not a "Hollywood Happy Ending," but one that, within the context of this movie, is completely believable.
* That said, it's a "couple issue," not a "mean old man" issue that drives the story. The resolution is not "woman is perfect, man is root of all evil." Priscilla is not shown as a helpless victim, and while her husband MAY have had a valid reason to leave (by some perspectives), he's not a hero for doing so.
* Further on that point...no one in this story is inherently "evil" like some Romantic Comedies seem to require; they are very "human," frail, fallible, hurting and confused.
As for the critic's remarks that it's not funny, well, that's just a laugh in itself. We both laughed out loud a lot with this movie. Perhaps the humor did not resonate with "mainstream critics."
What's not to find funny about:
(1) Liza Minnelli in a pink cape with "Masturbator" very lightly stenciled on the back as she tries to teach a group of women to "explore their bodies." This whole scene was hilarious....the looks on the faces of the various women to name their "intimate parts," view with a mirror and learn every nook and cranny...IN A ROOM FULL OF OTHER WOMEN!
(2) Two married men (played by Paul Rudd and Keith David) talking about their wives using sex toy saying the following dialog (rate R, here for sure):
Reluctant Hubby (Rudd): It's like a d&*k replacement.
On Board Hubby (David): No, man it's like a d&*k TEAM MATE!
Imagine Keith David saying that line as only HE could deliver it. Not funny? Those people are dead inside.
(3) Priscilla (Parker Posey was perfect for this part...) in a sex shop looking to buy a 'toy.' She finds the biggest, meanest obviously most 'advanced' such device on the shelf and brings it to the counter. The girl behind the counter, played by Heather Graham, realizes Priscilla's need is more medical / therapeutic than hedonistic.
Counter Girl: Perhaps this is not the one for you.
Priscilla: Yes, I see what you mean. There is some dust on it.
Perfectly delivered by Posey....just the right mix of naiveté while trying to appear worldly.
Not funny...wow. But, I guess comedic tastes differ. The characters were not a bunch of jaded, "we know everything about the world" Hollywood fantasy persona's...the acted like real people. Oh well.
There were things about THE OH IN OHIO that I did not like:
* Adultery, but then again, there was some consequence shown.
* Teen characters with worldly experience well beyond the years....teenagers schooling the adults.
* In fact, the whole sub plot involving the husband's dalliance was unnecessary. This was Priscilla's story, and the side plot just seemed to be there to get eye candy Mischa Barton on screen and talking dirty.
Really, what a joy to actually laugh while watching a comedy rather than the mindless dreck of such offerings as DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR? and AMERICAN PIE. This comedy was for a more 'mature' sense of humor.
Overall, an enjoyable hour and a half. 3.5 out of 5 stars...not a "super" movie, by any stretch, but formula breaking, a bit daring in some ways, and definitely not worth the total panning given by critics.
I won't share the words my wife used to describe her opinion of the mainstream critics....purty funny, too.