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The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist February 14, 2013 at 1:12PM

Happy Valentine's Day! It's the most romantic day of the year (at least, if you've been listening to the endless advertising), and we hope you've made your plans, movie-related or otherwise (we'd argue that nothing says Valentine's Day like the twists and sexual politics of "Side Effects," but other options are available...). Now, February 14th is about many things: wining, dining, flowers, cards, chocolate, declarations of undying love. But all being well, it's about something else too: knocking boots.
48

The Worst

Watchmen
"Watchmen"
Much of Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" adaptation (based on the classic comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) is tone-deaf and wildly misguided, as is the case with this unintentionally goofy sex scene between two rubber-suited superheroes – the Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and the Night Owl (Patrick Wilson). Everything about the scene is clumsy and awkward, including the faux "Batman & Robin" costumes that have to be fumbled off with all the grace of a middle school boy unhooking his first bra. There's also the fact that they are attempting to have passionate sex while trapped inside a giant, hovering Owl-shaped space ship. Hot! The unintentionally funny cherry on top of this awful sex scene sundae though has got to be Snyder's music choice – Leonard Cohen's mournful "Hallelujah." Not only has it been overused in everything (especially the Jeff Buckley version) but that song has got to be one of the all-time boner killers. The "Hallelujah" choice took a laughably bad sex scene into "painfully sad" territory, which is where no sex scene outside of a Todd Solondz movie should ever go.


Showgirls
“Showgirls"
Like any musical number worth its salt, sex scenes should also serve the narrative – either advancing the plot forward or delivering a key bit of information about a character. In the case of "Showgirls," the sex scene between Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan, which takes place in the Las Vegas porno version of a Disney World swimming pool (complete with "lifelike" waterfall), gave us the insight that Berkley's character was epileptic and suffered from violent seizures. How else to explain the "caught in an electrical fence" writhing that goes on while she straddles future Portland Mayor McLaughlin, with every muscle in her body seeming to spasm in a different direction. A lot of what "Showgirls" director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas thought was "hot" was, in fact, laughably ludicrous. By the end of it you don't know whether Berkley has reached orgasm or if she should be rushed to the nearest emergency room. Kyle MacLachlan, for his part, just looks sort of bewildered, although his upper body strength is impressive and his amazing hair never seems to falter.

The Matrix Reloaded
"The Matrix Reloaded"
There are many, many sins in "The Matrix Reloaded," the wildly disappointing 2003 sequel to The Wachowskis' game-changing sci-fi actioner. It buries the film in nonsensical philosophy, introduces a host of dull new characters, and has to sideline its central character because he's become too powerful (though it is, at least, better than the even-worse threequel, "The Matrix Revolutions"). But among the worst individual moments is the centerpiece sex scene, which sees Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) chastely copping off in a side room while some kind of ludicrous techno rave/orgy kicks off among the people of Zion. The Wachowskis' commitment to the more transgressive side of progressive is admirable, and can lead to some pretty effective results (see their debut, "Bound"), but here it just feels like an extended and expensive shampoo commercial.

Killing Me Softly
"Killing Me Softly"
"Secretary" might have legitimized the more bondage-y side of on-screen sex in the middle of the '00s, but a few years later, the same thing had been attempted with the disastrous "erotic thriller" (and honestly, not enough inverted commas have been invented for this film) "Killing Me Softly." Not to be confused with Andrew Dominik's excellent crime thriller of last year ("Killing Them Softly"), it's the ill-advised English-language debut of "Farewell My Concubine" director Chen Kaige, and makes the fatal (but not uncommon, at the turn of the 21st century) mistake of assuming that Heather Graham is able to act. The "Boogie Nights" star plays an American woman who begins an affair with, and soon marries, a mysterious mountain climber (Joseph Fiennes), who may or may not be a murderer. The only thing more ridiculous in the film than the acting, the characters and the plot, are the "erotic moments," which start with Fiennes and Graham banging their way across an apartment floor, watched by a cat, and which peak with Graham trussed up with silk ropes like a marionette. Not a bad idea in theory, but completely ridiculous in execution, as you'll see below. Still, as one of the stupidest films in history, there's still a degree of car-crash appeal to be found.

 

The Room
"The Room"
So yeah, picking on "The Room," a film that's become a cult favorite thanks to its sheer awfulness and incompetence at every single level (and, if it was only 10% less irredeemably shitty, would never have been heard of), might seem slightly unfair. And indeed, we were tempted not to include them, but then we watched them again, and decided we really had no option. Director/star Tommy Wiseau shoots and blocks every sex scene in exactly the same manner -- like an excerpt from an early 1990s Lover's Guide-type tape. Awful R&B soundtracks it, the guys all have the same moves, the girls pretty much just lay there, and Wiseau never saw a silk curtain that he couldn't stick in front of his camera. And then it's all topped by the extraordinary expressions of the guy in the second clip below, who 1) appears to be reacting before the act itself actually takes place, and 2) has the single most off-putting orgasm face in history. Ah, what would we do without "The Room"?

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