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Legal download: Sex comedies on demand

The world of film is changing. For one thing, there’s not much actual film anymore. The future is digital; more and more, it’s streaming on our computers, too. Every week in Legal Download, we survey the landscape of online movies to bring you a snapshot of what’s available. This week, it’s all about fucks and yucks as we list the sex comedies you can find online.

THIS WEEK’S THEME: Sex Comedies

There’s nothing funnier than sex. The eternal quest for it, the fumbling, awkward act itself, the deep shame afterwards — everything about it is ripe with comic possibilities. Movies tend to treat sex a bit seriously — maybe because the censors who monitor the content in movies tend to treat sex really seriously — but over the years, the cinema has nonetheless given us some very funny discourse on intercourse. Here are just five examples that you can watch in your home, on your computer, right this second.

On SundanceNow
SEXUAL CHRONICLES OF A FRENCH FAMILY (2012)
Directed by Pascal Arnold, Jean-Marc Barr
$6.99 to rent or stream

I read that title — SEXUAL CHRONICLES OF A FRENCH FAMILY — and I think: this is what the world of legal downloads is for: watching movies you’re curious about but might feel embarrassed to see in a theater; not because you should, but because society has trained you that sex is something unnatural and dirty. That title — again, it’s SEXUAL CHRONICLES OF A FRENCH FAMILY — might sound awkward when spoken to a box office attendant, but it’s definitely an eye-catcher on a list of On Demand movies. And, sure enough, the film indeed chronicles a year in the (sex) lives of a French family aiming for more openness and honesty about their amorous adventures after the family’s 18-year-old horny teenager gets busted masturbating in science class (Who amongst us can’t relate? Uh, I mean, I certainly can’t. But maybe, like, others do?). Scrolling through reviews I see phrases like “varying roudelay of sex scenes” “veritable yearlong fuckfest” and “wall-to-wall couplings (and triplings)” — and that’s all from a single piece! Truth in advertising; gotta love it.

On Netflix
PRIVATE SCHOOL (1983)
Directed by Noel Black
Free for streaming plan members

This typical entry in the glut of raunchy 1980s teen comedies that flooded the market in the wake of the phenomenally successful PORKY’S (which, alas, is not currently available for legal download or streaming) stars Phoebe Cates as a girl at — SPOILER ALERT! — a private school, competing for the affections of a boy (Matthew Modine) with a class rival (Betsy Russell). In his original review of the film from 1983 — which includes an interesting examination of that teen raunch glut — Roger Ebert calls Cates “a breath of fresh air” and says her presence ensures PRIVATE SCHOOL is “not without charm.” But memorable Cates performances aside, I know PRIVATE SCHOOL best for its all-time classic come hither trailer. I’m sure when the narrator pauses and tells the audience the film is “Coming soon…” he is referring to the impending release date and absolutely nothing else.

A DIRTY SHAME (2004)
Directed by John Waters
Free for streaming plan members

This wildly underrated satire from shock cinema master John Waters follows the hilariously filthy (but not particularly explicit) sexploits of a repressed prude (Tracy Ullman) transformed into a raging nymphomaniac by a bonk on the head. Ullman’s brain trauma leads her deep into Baltimore’s fetish underworld, and puts her smack dab in the middle of a war between “neuters” (so-called for their puritanical views) and perverts (so-called for their pervitanical views). Waters’ A DIRTY SHAME isn’t all that dirty — most of the fetishes are treated with a chuckle rather than a lusty moan — but it brilliantly satirizes both sides of the culture war that has gripped our country for more than a decade. The dirtiest shame of all: this is still Waters’ last feature — and it was made eight years ago. C’mon John! Stop hitchiking across America and get back to work!

On Amazon Instant Video
ORGAZMO (1997)
Directed by Trey Parker
$2.99 to rent, $9.99 to purchase

Trey Parker and Matt Stone began shooting in ORGAZMO in February 1997. Two weeks into production, they learned that their pilot for a crudely animated cartoon comedy series had been picked up by Comedy Central. By the time ORGAZMO was released about a year and a half later, South Park was a sensation. Still, it didn’t do much to help this quirky little film about an idealistic Mormon missionary (Parker) who agrees to star in a porno in order to make the quick money he needs to marry his fiancee (The film is, in a sense, a deranged prequel to Parker and Stone’s massively successful Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon). The big box office problem for ORGAZMO? The same one that sunk Waters’ A DIRTY SHAME: an NC-17 rating for sexual content. But like A DIRTY SHAME, ORGAZMO wasn’t pornography, which no doubt confused and annoyed the smuthounds who actually sought the movie out in the few theaters that would actually screen it. Instant streaming gives you the opportunity to correct 1997 pop culture’s oversight.

On iTunes
SUPERBAD (2007)
Directed by Greg Mottola
$9.99 to purchase; $17.99 to purchase in HD.

Comedy impresario Judd Apatow has carved out a large and healthy niche in the last few years reveling in, celebrating, and gently ridiculing the sexual exploits of dweebs, dorks, geeks, and 40 year old virgins. To my mind, the purest expression to date of his stable’s unique brand of awkward comedy is SUPERBAD, co-written, produced, and starring Apatow alter ego Seth Rogen. Two wayward high school seniors and lifelong best friends — Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) — are desperate to lose their virginity before they head off to college, and carefully plan an end of the year party as the site of their assault on their preferred targets, Becca (Martha MacIsaac) and Jules (Emma Stone, in her breakout role). The tale is nearly as old as the medium of cinema itself, but what Apatow, Rogen, and director Judd Apatow brought to the table was a wicked self-mocking edge coupled with a genuine affection for Hill and Cera’s supergood buddies. After all their attempts to get into women’s pants, they ultimately realize the true love story in their lives is the one bromantic one they share.