Movie Review
The OH in Ohio
2006
Director: Billy Kent
Cast: Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Danny DeVito
C


the cheekily titled The OH in Ohio is, when you get down to it, about a thirty-something woman learning at last how to orgasm. “How do you make a woman come?” asks her frustrated and estranged husband, finishing despondently “who cares?” Surely he doesn’t mean it, but the audience might. For a film with a bottom line that’s all about sexual payoff, The OH in Ohio certainly builds its own brand of tension; it’s just not very dramatic or even particularly interesting. So why would you care?

Like any good indie film, of course, the story is more complicated than its marketing pitch, and sex is really just a lens for the gooier feelings in life. Parker Posey plays Priscilla Chase, a successful career woman among the ranks of some 30 million American women missing their big finish in bed. Paul Rudd is Jack, the husband who claims her “frigidity” has turned him into a pathetic and desperate shell of a man. Just as her office life is soaring, her marriage is destroyed as Jack moves out and begins a relationship with his star science student (Mischa Barton, in one of those “against-type” castings that goes about as badly as you’d expect).

But while Rudd restores his manhood with the lanky waif and her spectacularly complicit vagina, Posey strikes up a romance with all manner of vibrating electronics and begins her obsession with the orgasm. Sadly, those late-night encounters with sex toys don’t translate into human-on-human interactions, until one glorious night when she goes home with Wayne alias “the Pool Guy.” He’s played by Danny DeVito, and oh, it’s just horrible.


Horrible, of course, in that delightfully brilliant way that casts DeVito as a sex god in a sex comedy in which he’s a few plausible degrees of sexual distance from The O.C.’s glamorous golden girl. That bit of inspired off-kilter casting is a delightful complement to the perennially lovable Posey and Rudd, who work smart and sympathetic performances out of what they have.

But it’s what they have that seems to always kill the mood. The film puts edgy concept through a strainer and delivers it into one of the year’s safest and sweetest treatises on letting go and finding happiness. There’s no doubt audiences would root for Posey were she trying to find spare change in her sofa, much less achieve an orgasm, but the film shouldn’t aim to make those quests feel so equivalently compelling.

Oddly enough for a film about orgasms, The OH in Ohio also has profound trouble finding its climax. Or to be more direct, it simply doesn’t have one. The insubstantial conflicts, the developing character relationships—they all abruptly culminate in a dissatisfying nothing as the screen goes black. Surprising audiences tends to be the undertaking of the ambitious, but to do it with end credits is just perplexing.

But it’s not only that the film’s technique fails to stay true to its orgasmic roots—after all, the film is more about coming to terms than coming—it’s that as exuberantly fun as it is to watch talented people do frankly sexual things, the frivolity of it all is fairly undeniable without at least some perfunctory nod to dramatic conflict. The women come, to be sure. They come and come again. But in the end, who cares?


By: Amanda Andrade
Published on: 2006-09-18
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