Monday, June 30
6 p.m. – “The Pen” – Jerry accepts a gift his parents wanted him to refuse.
6:30 p.m. – “The Bizzaro Jerry” – Elaine’s soon-to-be former beau has two friends who resemble George and Kramer.
7 p.m. – “The Jimmy” – Jerry suspects his dentist and hygienist are living out their fantasies at his expense.
A talented and good-looking cast do their best to enliven the material, but "Just a Little Harmless Sex" will only have minor appeal to its targeted demographic. One of its more interesting gimmicks is that the women's dialogue was written by a female screenwriter (Marti Noxon), while the men's was written by a male (Roger Mills).
The film centers around a group of friends who are thrown into crisis mode by Alan (Robert Mailhouse) and Laura's (Alison Eastwood) marital division, which is precipitated when he is arrested for having oral sex with a hooker. (It was, of course, a big misunderstanding). Alan and Laura attempt to bury their sorrow by drinking heavily and hanging out with their best friends: he with Danny (Jonathan Silverman), a misogynist divorcee who hits on every woman in sight, and Brent (William Ragsdale), a bachelor who can't seem to perpetuate a relationship; and she with the uninhibited Terrianne (Jessica Lundy), Danny's ex-wife who is embarrassed about her inability to achieve orgasm, and the demure Allison (Kimberly Williams), who harbors secret fantasies of being an exotic dancer.
Mostly taking place during one long evening, "Just a Little Harmless Sex" features the kind of endless, frank kibitzing about sex and relationships that is so prevalent in today's indie films. Its endless talkiness, which includes a fair amount of ribald wit, is occasionally interrupted by such embarrassing sequences as Allison's impromptu striptease at a local bar and Danny and Brent's falling all over themselves trying to score with Laura's sexy mother (the still amazingly beautiful Lauren Hutton).
The film is most effective when it stays on the lighter side of its subject; when it attempts to dig deeper into the complexities of male and female relationships, the results are less insightful than mawkish.
JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS SEX
Director-producer: Rick Rosenthal
Screenwriters: Marti Noxon, Roger Mills
Director of photography: Bruce Surtees
Editor: James Austin Stewart
Production designer: Amy Danger
Costume designer: Kelly Ztrick
Associate producer: Jen Miller
Co-producer: James Beardsley
Producer: Deborah Capogrosso
Music: Tito Larriva
Laura: Alison Eastwood
Alan: Robert Mailhouse
Brent: William Ragsdale
Danny: Jonathan Silverman
Allison: Kimberly Williams
Terrianne: Jessica Lundy
Elaine: Lauren Hutton
Marilyn: Rachel Hunter
Running time -- 98 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Looking to easily achieve orbit its opening weekend, director Stuart Gillard's often-hilarious space odyssey has a good chance to draw healthy crowds for several weeks and successfully complete its mission.
Playing a NASA software engineer who against all odds joins the crew of the first manned mission to Mars, Williams starts off in turbo-nerd mode and rarely slows down. Following in the footsteps of Pee-wee Herman and Ace Ventura, Williams' lead character has that oblivious-but-talkative geek personality that draws one into a very goofy scenario.
Much of the credit for "RocketMan"'s crowd-pleasing entertainment value goes to Williams, but Gillard, screenwriters Craig Mazin and Greg Erb and a shipshape supporting cast have a lot of fun spoofing NASA and such movies as "The Right Stuff" and "Apollo 13".
Not unlike the studio's surprise summer hit "George of the Jungle", "RocketMan" is continually saved from being swamped by juvenile humor with snappy lines and partly serious physical action. Not every gag works, of course, but there are more than enough that do, and the actual landing on and exploration of Mars is just convincing enough to make the final reels exciting.
Call it "The Nutty Astronaut". Fred Z. Randall (Williams) has programmed the computer for a Mars lander with glitches that come out in training. Called in to fix the problem, the star-struck Randall is soon a dark-horse candidate to join the mission, but he has to outperform and otherwise drive a rival (Blake Boyd) crazy in a wacky sequence of physical endurance tests.
With the help of a fatherly ex-astronaut (Beau Bridges), Randall wins the endorsement of the mission flight director (Jeffrey DeMunn) and NASA's big cheese (James Pickens Jr.). In a shuttle-like craft on its way to Mars, the lead causes havoc in the routines of his fellow travelers -- a straight-laced space veteran (William Sadler), a voluptuous mission specialist (Jessica Lundy) and Ulysses the chimp.
By the end, some audiences will be cheering as "RocketMan" gives Randall the chance to be a hero, win the girl, and save the mission. Along with homages to classic science-fiction cinema -- including a cute Fred Astaire-meets-Stanley Kubrick moment -- "RocketMan" is a winning combination of believable and fanciful visual styles.
The same can be said for Williams ("Down Periscope"), who animates his fairly plain person into a comic whirlwind, including several imitations and a horrific shriek in one memorable scene. Indeed, "RocketMan" is loaded with dumb but harmless stuff, and one is amazed that NASA was so cooperative.
Kudos to Gillard and crew. The well-realized production boasts superb cinematography by Steven Poster, nifty production design by Roy Forge Smith and super costumes by Daniel Orlandi.
Buena Vista Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures presents
In association with Caravan Pictures
A Roger Birnbaum/Gold/Miller production
A Stuart Gillard film
Director Stuart Gillard
Producer Roger Birnbaum
Screenwriters Craig Mazin, Greg Erb
Executive producers Jon Turteltaub, Oren Aviv, Jonathan Glickman
Director of photography Steven Poster
Production designer Roy Forge Smith
Editor William D. Gordean
Music Michael Tavera
Costume designer Daniel Orlandi
Casting Rick Montgomery, Dan Parada
Fred Z. Randall Harland Williams
Julie Ford Jessica Lundy
"Wild Bill" Overbeck William Sadler
Paul Wick Jeffrey DeMunn
Ben Stevens James Pickens Jr.
Bud Mesbitt Beau Bridges
Gordon A. Peacock Blake Boyd
Running time -- 94 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
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