Call me old fashioned, but the last thing I want in a sex comedy is “timid” and “coy.”
“How to Please a Woman” is an airless, laughless romantic “romp” from down under about a woman who takes over a failed moving company and turns “Pleased to Move You” into a moving, house-cleaning, stripping and sexual service operation.
Because, in Oz — Australia — the ladies are frustrated. And nobody wants to live in a dirty house.
Sally Phillips (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) stars Gina, a 50something business viability assessor who gets laid off on her birthday, of all days. Rather than take the slam-dunk age discrimination lawsuit laid at her feet by her clueless, boorish younger boss (Oliver Wenn), she has an epiphany. She’ll take over this all-guy moving company her firm has just shut down.
Blame her mates at her morning swim club for that. They pitched in and bought her a “whatever you want” stripper (Alexander England) for her birthday, and she turned her embarrassment into “Could you clean my house?”
As that stripper/sex worker happened to be one of those newly-laid-off movers, the idea’s right there in front of her.
What do women really want? A guy who’ll clean her house. Topless. And maybe take things to the next level.
“Obviously the cleaning must be effective,” she says, pitching the new business model to the lads of “Pleased to Move You.” “With a minimum of one orgasm” guaranteed. No boys, “yours” doesn’t count.
Word gets around.
“I hear he leaves no SURFACE untouched.”
That’s the movie’s opening pitch. The twist here is that the guys — one hunk, the rest several peers short of a six-pack — aren’t all that in the sack. So, Gina’s sex-worker-hiring mates from the swim club are needed for on-the-job training.
Gina’s own frustrations are a part of the package, as well. And as predictable as that is, as amusing as her first encounter with a vibrator might be and with an age-appropriate manager (Erik Thomson) right there in the office with her to “solve” her problem, writer-director Renée Webster can’t find a funny line or amusing situation to save her life.
Here’s how “off” this is. Gina’s friends hire her a sex worker for her birthday. They mention the passage of time since she’s had something romantic happen to her. And we’ve seen Gina with a husband (Cameron Daddo), a lawyer who gave her cash for her birthday because he’s that considerate.
But since her friends don’t speak of this Adrian fellow, since Gina seems mostly alone at home, there’s hint after hint that character isn’t really there. One can’t tell if he’s dead and she’s just seeing his tuned-out/checked-out-of-the-marriage ghost, or if he’s just a stiff, and not the good kind.
The are semi-comical sex scenes here, but the nudity is all in the locker room of their swim club. There’s a signals-crossing joke sitcom moment or two and a “Real cop, or stripper cop?” gag. There is the hope of a little comic frisson from her gaggle of gal-pals.
But none of it generates anything more than a smirk. The players mug a bit, but nobody works up a sweat, in front of or behind the camera.
“How to Please a Woman” may play to its target audience, giving voice to female relationship frustrations and the like. But as pleasantly drab as it generally is, I dare say it won’t please any gender, any where.
Rating: unrated, sex, nudity, profanity
Cast: Sally Phillips, Alexander England, Caroline Brazier, Erik Thomson, Tasma Walton, Hayley McElhinney and Roz Hammond
Credits: Scripted and directed by Renée Webster. A Brainstorm Media release.
Running time: 1:47