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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.
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Gigli

"Gigli"
As with "The Room," laying into "Gigli" makes us feel bad; it's a legendary disaster of a film that came close to ending the careers of its two leads, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (then still a real life couple; the former's bounced back in a huge way thanks to his directing work, the latter... not so much), and did end the career of its writer-director, Martin Brest, who hasn't worked since. But again, there is a reason for that, not least in its notorious and interminable sex scene. Affleck plays a junior mobster, who kidnaps the mentally-challenged younger brother (Justin Bartha) of a prosecutor in order to gain leverage for his boss, only to find that his employer has also hired a woman, Ricki (Lopez), to aid him with the task. About two-thirds of the way through, the pair sleep together, and it's awful and offensive as an idea on its own. Why? You see, Lopez's character is a lesbian, "turned" by Affleck's dim-witted charms, and only a few moments after her girlfriend has attempted suicide, no less. And between Brest's endless, sub-Tarantino dialogue, the complete lack of chemistry between the pair, and Lopez's command "It's turkey time, gobble gobble,"  it's hard to imagine how the execution could be any worse.


The Man Who Fell To Earth
"The Man Who Fell To Earth"
Nicolas Roeg might have been responsible for arguably the best sex scene in screen history with "Don't Look Now" (along with other memorable moments in "Performance" and "Walkabout," among others), but the director couldn't pull it off every time. His otherwise strong sci-fi "The Man Who Fell To Earth," starring David Bowie at his most Tilda Swinton-ish, features a number of questionable romps between Bowie's visitor from another world, Newton, and hotel employee Mary-Lou ("American Graffiti" star Candy Clark). It doesn't help that Clark is miscast, and Roeg shoots her in a way that feels ickily exploitative, but it reaches its nadir as Newton reveals his alien form to her, complete with dissolves/intercuts to what appears to be a bukkake-like alien mating ritual. It's a film from a different time, obviously, and one has to forgive it a certain amount, and for much of the film, it's less of a problem. But there's a limit, and we can't imagine these scenes being particularly involving even at the time.


Wild Things
"Wild Things"
Chances are some of you probably think the lesbian/pool/make-out scene in John McNaughton's maybe-satirical erotic comedy thriller "Wild Things" is pretty hot given that it's two chicks playing tonsil hockey in a pool all wet and wild. But it is really the frattiest of fratboy sex scenes, and borderline repulsive for several reasons. For one, since the two actors (Denise Richards and Neve Campbell) can't act for shit, it's in no way believable and therefore isn't sexy -- Campbell kisses as if Richards tastes like an ashtray full of beer and buttholes, and her wincing face makes the scene all the more grotesque (the fact that Campbell out-acts Richards at being horrible is another feat therein). And Denise Richards is all shallow, empty "hotness" with pretty obviously fake boobs. The scene is the height of manufactured hotness, a cheap male fantasy that is so artificial that it's just superficially sexy at best (tone wise, the scuzzy movie is just this side of "Showgirls," which doesn't help). The same goes for the three-way sex scene in the film with Matt Dillon later on, which makes us totally queasy every time because of Campbell's face, which looks like she's going to hurl whenever her hands go near Richards' rubbery Barbie chest. We're all for on-screen sapphism, but for more effective results try "Bound," "Henry And June," "Mulholland Drive" and many many more.


Damages
"Damage"
Louis Malle's penultimate film sounds good and hot on paper. It stars Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche as a pair that breaks their vows to have a torrid love affair with one another. Malle, Binoche, Irons, adulterous lovers. What's not to lust? The problem is that every sex scene is like a SNL parody sketch of two lovers that want each other so bad they'll break the imagined glass between them to fuck. Imagine serious thesps Binoche and Irons butt naked and licking, pawing and whimpering like wild oversexed hyenas in heat and you'll get an idea of how overwrought and overdone each sex scene is. I had the ignominy of watching this movie with my Dad when I was a teenager (these were the days you went to the video store and picked up a VHS without knowing much more than the actors that starred) and as much as there were painful, uncomfortable silences, they were often broken by loud laughs of recognition that we were watching some of the most absurd and silly sex scenes we had ever seen.


 

Munich
"Munich"
Steven Spielberg's brilliant "Munich" is nothing if not ballsy. From the opening sequence recounting the hostage scenario at the Munich Olympic Games to the revenge plot hatched by the Israel government to seek out those that were responsible and systematically eliminate them, the film is Spielberg at his most fearless and virtuosic. Except, at a key juncture, when it all goes to shit. It's towards the end of the film when we're watching our main spy (Eric Bana) have sex with his lovely wife (Ayelet Zurer), and while he's on top of her, thrusting away, he has violent flashbacks to the Munich hostage situation. This is weird for a number of reasons: one, when you fantasize while having sex with your wife, aren't you supposed to think about...well, anything but the Munich Olympic Games? Two, why would he be having sweaty sex flashbacks to an event that he was never actually at? We get it: the trauma of the mission has infected every part of his life, leaving him to drown in a swampy, morally gray soup. But Jesus. Spielberg shot and edited the scene with the kind of no-holds-barred approach he applied to the rest of the movie, which means glistening beads of sweat dripping off Bana's body in slow motion, but it tips the movie into dangerously silly territory, and both times we saw it theatrically it elicited nervous giggles from the paying audience. Sometimes bold moves result in equally bold miscalculations.

Thoughts? You must have your own favorites, and we assume you can't always agree with us. -- Oliver Lyttelton, Drew Taylor, Rodrigo Perez

This article is related to: Features


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