Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)

by Damian Cannon

A series of lunatic sketches that deal with sex, loosely based on Dr. David Reuben's book, the results are amusing, uneven and always memorable. Typical questions include "What is a sex pervert?" and "Do aphrodisiacs work?", although this gives no inkling of the way Allen picks up these queries and runs with them. For instance, the piece on aphrodisiacs transports us deep into the middle ages and the court of a King (Anthony Quayle). The Fool (Woody Allen) has little success with his line of low-key humour ("Things are looking pretty black with this plague...") and tends to incur the wrath of the King. His destiny becomes clear when an apparition of his father (Alan Caillou) appears and commands him to sleep with the Queen (Lynn Redgrave). This seems like a course for certain death, although a certain potion from the Sorcerer (Geoffrey Holder) makes Her Royal Highness a little more malleable. The only problem remaining is the jealous King's chastity belt - what's a fool to do?

Continuing in this vein, Allen becomes Fabrizio (an Italian sophisticate who has problems with his wife), Victor (a budding sexologist) and a sperm! Squeezed between these revealing segments comes "What's my perversion?", a Fifties style TV quiz show, and a detour into bestiality with Dr. Ross (Gene Wilder). It's probably true to say that the love which can exist between man and sheep has never been portrayed so movingly before! However, the final passage is where Everything You Always... hits the pinnacle of comedy. Jumping inside the body of a man who is hoping to have intercourse, with his date sitting opposite, the Brain Crew (including Burt Reynolds) is at full alert to make sure that nothing breaks down. In the stomach they're dealing with a heavy load of pasta but that isn't going to cramp the style of the engineering crew, who hoist the erection. The situation is on a knife-edge as the threat of impotence looms, until a ranting priest is dragged from the conscience room (he has been putting a damper on the whole affair). From then on it's full steam ahead, giving the neurotic sperm (Allen) a chance to use everything he was taught in school.

The basis for this movie is a gem, picking up the most popular questions from a manual on sexual problems and creating fables around them. The script, by Woody Allen, is both endlessly inventive and extremely funny - for once Allen is able to branch away from his standard movie persona and showcase his wider talents. The supporting cast all do pretty well, especially Wilder, although the nature of the film is such that there is no time for character development. This is occasionally grating when new situations are plucked into existence with minimal background explanation. However, one-liners are produced at a staggering rate; if one joke seems obscure you know that another will be along shortly. The upshot of this is that allowances have to be made for the movie's structure, which breaks everything up, and the individual stories enjoyed for what they are (some of these are so good that they could almost be expanded into films by themselves). Be prepared to laugh at other people's perversions then wonder what Woody Allen would have done with yours!

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