With its provocative DVD cover and its racy title, you might think you know what to expect from the Canadian indie "An Awkward Sexual Adventure." And, in many ways, you'd be right. But using all the conventions that you would anticipate from a bawdy sex romp, the picture subverts them into a wholly unique experience. Can a movie be both in-you-face and gentle? Can it be explicit and sweet? The answer, in my estimation, is yes. "An Awkward Sexual Adventure" is surprisingly adept as a relationship drama, a journey of self-discovery, and as a blossoming romance. Through it all, though, it is also laugh out loud funny giving its audience plenty of raunchy humor and uncomfortable situations. I'll be honest. I saw the cover of the DVD (with a tantalizingly placed melon) and I instantly sized up the picture. Sure to attract a male audience looking for a crude and lewd experience, the movie offers more than its share of pleasures for the female crowd as well. Yes, this is really a date movie that everyone can enjoy (more There's Something About Mary than American Pie). The women in "An Awkward Sexual Adventure" aren't just conquests, they help to make the men better people.
Jonas Chernick (who also penned the screenplay) plays a repressed accountant who starts the picture being dumped by his long time girlfriend (Sarah Manninen). It's pretty brutal, to be honest, but she is clearly unsatisfied in a number of important ways. Chernick goes on a pre-scheduled vacation at the same time, but is still convinced he can recapture his love's attention. His best friend (Vik Sahay) promises him a liberating sexual experience, but his plans go awry when he finds himself in a more traditional relationship himself. That leaves Chernick to his own devices, and his master plan is to evoke jealousy by photographing himself with an array of lovely women. One boozy night later, he finds himself in the apartment of a comely dancer (Emily Hampshire) who rescued him from the club's parking lot. She needs financial help, he needs sexual education. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. She will be his mentor in getting his ex-girlfriend back and her prescribed curriculum is unorthodox at best. Through the process, though, Chernick discovers more about himself than he anticipated.
Truthfully, nothing in the actual plotting of "An Awkward Sexual Adventure" is particularly surprising. But this is more about the journey than arriving at the destination. The picture has a assured charm and an easiness about sex that is quite refreshing. Chernick gives an accomplished performance, but Hampshire is an absolute find. Sexy, confident, vulnerable, she takes what might have been a stock character and makes her someone you really care about! Much to my surprise, I was invested in the relationship central to this quirky little sex movie on both an emotional and an intellectual level. But lest I make everything sound too sappy or sweet, the movie is also terrifically funny in the most inappropriate ways. A sleeper that deserves to be discovered by a wider audience, this is simply a good time. I enjoyed it immensely, so give it a try. As an aside, it won the People's Choice Award at the Calgary International Film Festival. KGHarris, 8/13.