Does life get mundane after marriage? And more so when the married couple have children in their lives? That’s the problem Josh (Jonas Chernick) and Emma (Emily Hampshire) are facing in ‘The End of Sex,’ a new indie rom-com from Sean Garrity of the award-winning ‘Inertia’ (2001), and ‘My Awkward Sexual Adventure’ (2012) fame.
Chernick, who also wrote the screenplay, doesn’t break any new ground. But it was something that anyone – married or not — could relate to the situation like Josh and Emma. In ‘The End of Sex,’ we first see the happy family life that Josh and Emma enjoy with their wonderful daughters. So, when their girls are away at winter camp, they finally have a week all to themselves. They suggest plenty of things but ultimately settle for something they have been putting off for a long while. And that is, making love without worrying about their kids around.
They can even make noise as loud as they want. But instead of potentially passionate sex, it didn’t end up as well as they thought, complete with their inner-thought remarks like ‘mild chafing,’ ‘tongue cramp,’ and ‘definitely too many teeth’ literally popped up on-screen.
Since they failed to generate any spark in their increasingly stagnant sex life, Josh and Emma are open to trying something new and different for a change. This includes inviting Emma’s co-worker and friend, Wendy (Melanie Scrofano), for a threesome and a visit to a sex club for a swinging adventure, where the latter find themselves stumbled upon Emma’s dad (Colin Mochrie of the popular improvisational comedy show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’).
As the movie goes on, the pair’s newfound sexual adventures lead to more problems other than struggling to fulfill their physical intimacy. This is especially true with Emma’s college classmate, Marlon (Gray Powell) has been harboring a crush on her, and so does Josh’s younger co-worker and boss, Kelly (Lily Gao, who voiced Ada Wong in the remake of ‘Resident Evil 4’ video game) in the office.
Romantic comedies, or more appropriately, sex comedies about a couple looking to spice up their dormant sex life, are nothing new. We have seen them many times before in movies and TV series, covering the likes of ‘Knocked Up’ and Netflix’s ‘Sex/Life,’ just to name a few. And yet, Garrity does a good job of bringing out the best in Chernick and Hampshire, where the two previously worked together in ‘My Awkward Sexual Adventure’ and ‘Borealis.’
Their chemistry feels more natural than a manufactured on-screen couple from glossy Hollywood rom-com movies. The typical movie-style dramatization and exaggeration angle may have been there, but Chernick and Hampshire kept it real for most parts of ‘The End of Sex.’ It’s hard not to root for their plights as we see them try and fail to re-ignite their sexual passion ever since they have children. Becoming parents usually means prioritizing their children’s well-being above all else, even if it ends up sacrificing one’s personal needs, or in the case of Josh and Emma, it’s about rediscovering the pleasure of having sex to revive their moribund marriage.
Chernick’s screenplay also manages to strike a fine balance between the relationship drama and its comedy aspect without going overboard. Even scenes like the threesome moments between Josh, Emma, and Marlon are depicted in a way that doesn’t feel tacky or gratuitous. Instead, Chernick, along with Garrity’s sensible direction, showcased how awkward a sexual adventure beyond the usual norm can be when a couple attempts to venture into uncharted territory.
The movie is blessed with a strong supporting cast, including Melanie Scrofano and Lily Gao, while Colin Mochrie delivers a hilariously deadpan cameo appearance as Emma’s sexually adventurous dad. The latter sure knows how to embrace the awkward moment after encountering his daughter during the scene in a sex club. It also helps the movie only run under 90 minutes as Garrity moves the pace briskly from one scene to another without overstaying its welcome.
But for all the believable chemistry and relatable story, ‘The End of Sex’ could have been better if Garrity didn’t hold back too much on the sex angle. Sure, we have moments where the characters openly discuss their diminishing sex life in an honest manner, but being a sex comedy, it feels like it’s missing the vital ingredient. That ingredient in question turns out to be the sex scenes.
Provocative elements of a threesome and swinging may have been included in this movie. However, as much as I enjoy watching the way Garrity diffuses these uncomfortable situations by injecting a sense of humor, the sex scenes are curiously tame. I don’t mean they have to be as explicit as NC-17-rated type, but given the title, a little less conservative on the physical depiction of sex would have taken ‘The End of Sex’ to a greater level for such a like-minded romantic comedy.