3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 90 minutes
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No false advertising here. While it’s too smart to be shelved on the porn rack, “YPF” (a neutered acronym for “Young People Fucking,” its original title) shoots Judd Apatow-styled raunch into previously uncharted stratospheres of frank sexual humor. Tracking five amorous couples through foreplay, coitus, and afterglow, Martin Gero’s lively Canuck comedy doesn’t go the whole hardcore enchilada (a la 2006’s eye-popping “Shortbus”). However, its willingness to tackle common, yet squirm-inducing sexual predicaments with blunt, sometimes hysterical wordplay will certainly command attention.

All right, already. Is it funny? Pretty fucking funny, indeed.

Gero’s script introduces us, Robert Altman-style, to several couples in wildly varied romantic relationships. Onscreen titles announce each setup: there’s First Date, The Exes, The Friends, The Couple, and The Roommates. First-daters Ken (Callum Blue) and Jamie (Diora Baird), for example, are a corporate player and an office flirt. Both define their hollow shell of a courtship with phony promises and the bottom-line callousness of a stock buyout. Recently separated Mia & Eric (Sonja Bennett & Josh Cooke) negotiate new boundaries with lingering flames of desire on a lonely night. “This is just for fun. You’re over me, right?” asks Mia of her visiting one-time hubby. Gero stages their indecisive reunion as delicate and bittersweet.

The same can’t be said of longtime friends Matt and Kris (Aaron Abrams & Carly Pope), attempting a purely physical, emotionless bout of boffing without jeopardizing their close camaraderie. Do complications arise when best buds become amorous acquaintances? Is Dirk Diggler packing? The frisky female jump-starts their tryst by demanding dirty talk. Matt obliges with some hair-raising, heinously foul hyperbole that would make Larry Flynt blush. Long, dead silence. The vibe suddenly turns frigid. “Why would I want that?” Kris angrily responds, wide-eyed with revulsion.

More riotous, sidesplitting mating games concern a love-starved wife trapped in a sexually humdrum relationship. “I need orgasms,” Abby (Kristin Booth) insists to Andrew (Josh Dean), her geeky, indifferent squeeze. To command this passive partner’s attention, she morphs into a strap-on brandishing dominatrix. After persuading Andrew to turn the tables and let her “do him,” Abby suddenly feels guilty about her newfound assertiveness. “Shouldn’t we start this out with some hugging and kissing?” she suggests with worried, compassionate eyes. “I have a feeling it’s not gonna get me any wetter,” confirms her nervously compliant, prone-positioned spouse.

“YPF” also presents Gord (Ennis Esmer) & Inez (Natalie Lisinska), a swaggering slob and his hot, slobber-inducing girlfriend. Uninhibited to a fault, Gord is one of those good-time frat-boys who greet every friend with a high-five and open brewskie. He arranges a threesome with Dave (Peter Oldring), their low-key, introverted housemate. The fleshy logistics involve Gord watching the other two go at it, scarfing munchies all the while from a reclining chair like a Superbowl spectator. The “go for it” casualness of Gord, coupled with the slack-jawed, “how did I get into this” affect of the disbelieving Dave, provide several surreal belly laughs.

Some viewers might condemn Gero for letting the most intimate, uncomfortable aspects of romantic coupling hang out like so much ill-harnessed cleavage. But come on. This is “Young People Fucking,” not “Driving Miss Daisy.” Others will insist that these scenarios are, in fact, pretty real – so why all the repressed hoopla? In fact, “YPF” sympathizes with most of the randy fornicators on its palette, making it work on the same level as Apatow’s films. It’s raunchy, yes – but there are moments of human familiarity that might keep even more conservative viewers tuned in. The sense of melancholy surrounding Gero’s pair of separated ex-spouses is resonant and real. The awkward vibe of two well-meaning friends pushing sex onto a platonic partnership also feels genuine. Viewers are certain to recognize and identify with many of the between-the-sheets dynamics.

“YPF” has a couple of flaws. The office lothario and tease from its First Date segment are too unsympathetic to be very interesting. I’m sure there are millions of heartless, calculated, game-playing yuppie manipulators inhabiting meat markets across the globe, but that doesn’t make them much fun to be around, especially on a screen inhabited by so many other, more sympathetic souls.

Meanwhile, nearly everyone in the movie is a Maxim or GQ-caliber hardbody. Like “Bottle Shock,” which populated its vineyards with too many pouting pin-ups and hunky beefcakes, Gero’s visual world of skin is too pristine and airbrushed to compliment the sincerity of its script. These are imperfect, warts ‘n all people. I’m not suggesting Divine-level grotesqueries, but would a set of love handles or stretch marks be too out of line? Why not trade some perfect C-cup lung tonnage for a mole or two – or exchange a set of collagen-injected kissers for an overbite? How ‘bout a nose bump?

Looking for some funny fornicating? Some boobies ‘n belly laughs? Shags ‘n snickers? “YPF” should fit the bill between dinner at the Comedy Club and after-hours sheet heating.

Posted on August 29, 2008 in Reviews by

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