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A-Pix Entertainment presents
Relax...It's Just Sex (1997)

"You're a Christmas Eve person, you can never enjoy the presents after they're open.''
- Tara (Jennifer Tilly)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: August 13, 2000

Stars: Jennifer Tilly, Mitchell Anderson
Other Stars: T.C. Carson, Serena Scott Thomas, Cynda Williams, Billy Worth
Director: P.J. Castellaneta

MPAA Rating: R for Strong sexual content, language and a scene of violence
Run Time: 01h:50m:00s
Release Date: January 25, 2000
UPC: 783722702130
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CBB- C

DVD Review


I am sometimes amazed at the sheer number of films that come out under the guise of "independent romantic comedy." It seems as though every year there are at least a dozen that create a craze at Sundance and look to be the big indie hit of the year. Sometimes they work and more often they fail miserably and are banished to a direct-to-video hell. And while Relax...It's Just Sex doesn't have the honesty of Chasing Amy or the sheer sweetness of Swingers, it still works better than most.

Relax...It's Just Sex deals with a close circle of friends that through the course of the film struggle with family, love, and the basic troubles that are life. And on the surface the film seems to be yet another standard gay/straight romantic comedy. But with its takes on homosexuality and other hot topics it goes against the grain for a somewhat disturbing look at intimacy in the 90's. It is also not for everyone's tastes; in fact, getting past the first scene proved to be a bit of a hurdle for this reviewer.

Tara (Tilly) wants a baby, but her boyfriend Gus (Timothy Paul Perez) would rather go elsewhere and not settle down. His brother Javi (Garcia) is HIV-positive, although a friend named Buzz (Carson) assures him that AIDS does not exist. Add to those stories a lesbian couple, Sarina and Megan (Williams and Scott Thomas), in the throes of a breakup; a pair of homosexual Christians, Dwight and Diego (Gibbs Tolsdorf and Chris Cleveland); Robin (Petty), who tries to get Sarina on the rebound; and Vincey (Anderson), a writer who emerges as the conscience of the movie.

While it is indeed a chore to keep multiple stories together in a film, director Castellaneta only does an average job of it. Unlike both Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia) and Robert Altman (Short Cuts), Castellaneta stumbles with the multiple story lines and characters he has created. At times the screenplay is a bit too talky for its own good, and unlike most ensemble films, we don't get a chance to get involved with each character, not even for a brief while. Don't adjust your set if you think the characters seem flat, they really are one-dimensional.

The cast, much like the film, is hit-and-miss. Tilly is less than adequate as Tara, the mother hen of this group of friends. Supporting performances are a decidedly mixed bag of overacting and nicely understated performances. Petty, Scott-Thomas, Anderson, and Williams each turn in what amounts to no more than a stereotyped performance. It is too bad that all of the actors (who have done fine work in other films, with the exception of Petty) seem to be out of sync here due to a fairly straightforward screenplay.


Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review:
Relax...It's Just Sex is presented without the benefit of anamorphic enhancement in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and for this type of film what is offered is a solid presentation. The film has a certain amount of grain that indicates that it was shot in 16mm or on a cheaper film stock. Colors are a little toned down, although flesh tones are somewhat natural. Blacks seem accurate, but shadow detail tends to be limited. Overall a nice transfer.


Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review:
While not Saving Private Ryan by any means, Relax...It's Just Sex does offer a nice 5.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack. The track fits the norm for romantic comedies and doesn't attempt to break any new ground. The front soundstage is nicely mixed and the rear speakers come alive only a handful of times when music or ambient sounds are needed. Dialogue is mixed a bit lower than most films and I found myself having to turn my center channel speaker up more than once. It might just be my disc so I am willing to go out on a limb and say that your mileage may vary. There is no channel for a bass track on this disc and the film is neither the poorer nor the richer for it. Spanish subtitles are also offered on the disc.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Phantom Of the Opera, Six Ways To Sunday, Oxygen, Dance With The Devil, and Razor Blade Smile
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes
Extras Review:
I always tend to be a bit leery when a company touts Scene Access as a special feature on the packaging for the disc. Relax...It's Just Sex offers very little in the way of extra features; there are no real bright spots with what is offered. First up are both the home video and theatrical trailers for the film. The theatrical trailer is quite explicit and I would assume it was a "red band" trailer while in theaters. The home video trailer is more or less a cut-down version of the theatrical trailer and is a nice way to watch the film in about 45 seconds. A short series of outtakes is offered, but there is very little humor contained in this segment. Also included are cast bios as well as trailers for other A-Pix films.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments


While not the best romantic comedy of the past few years, this film does have its moments. It is worth a rental at best if you can find it at your local video store. Relax...It's Just Sex is a film that has many great peers in the romantic comedy genre, but hardly any qualities reminiscent of them. Marginally recommended.


 


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