First, there's that cast that looks pretty good -- Parker Posey
, Paul Rudd
, Keith David
-- even though it's being distributed by some no-name outfit. Then there's the title, a sad little bad joke that announces the filmmaker's sex-comedy intentions right up front. You're filled with trepidation but also hope: Maybe this is that rare gem that slips through the cracks, just maybe. Finally, the film starts and all hope is lost; yes, it is going to be just that bad.
Posey stars in The Oh in Ohio as Priscilla Chase, a prissy Cleveland advertising executive who's wrapped so tight that she could snap in two at any moment. Hubby Jack (Paul Rudd) is an overweight, bearded mess of a high school biology teacher. Friction in the home comes from Jack's inability to bring Priscilla to orgasm in bed -- of course, it may not be his fault, since she's never had one in her life. And since Adam Wierzbianski's script is just that advanced, the film then proceeds, via Priscilla's stumbling and vaguely comedic quest to open herself up sexually, to locate the source of all her worries in her crotch. Attain orgasm: Life's problem solved. Article continues below
Mirroring Priscilla's quest is that of Jack, who has decided that Priscilla's frigidity has thoroughly unmanned him, and so moves to the garage and ultimately a bachelor pad, finding his sexual fulfillment in the arms of an amorous student (played by Mischa Barton
, with all the color and nuance of an unusually thin robot) who, unlike all other such girls in recent films, actually doesn't seem to have an agenda besides romance. Since the film spends most of its time showing us the selfish, sexist pig side of Jack, it's strange that it then gives him such a fulfilling, Maxim-friendly relationship. But then, Oh in Ohio doesn't have much of idea where it's going anyway, straining for sincerity and depth one moment, and slapping us about with purportedly bawdy humor the next.
In a better world, this would have been a marvelous star vehicle for Posey, who too rarely gets the spotlight and more often gets shoved off into supporting character roles. Here, she's an excellent choice for Priscilla, with that brittle laugh and snappish way of movement -- watching her navigate the unfamiliar waters of sex therapists and one-night stands should have made for some easy lifting, comically-speaking. Unfortunately, this is a first-timer for both the director Billy Kent
and his screenwriter, Adam Wierzbianski, neither of whom show themselves to be up to the task of crafting a film worthy of their cast. It isn't just the sloppy camerawork and lack of comedic timing that dooms the project from the get-go, however, it's that there simply isn't enough material here to carry a short, much less an hour-and-a-half-long feature. Which is, in the end, inexcusable. If you throw frigid housewives, vibrators, the strangely romantic Danny DeVito
, a perky lesbian Heather Graham
, and a thoroughly nuts Liza Minnelli
(playing a whacked-out masturbation therapist in one of the film's few scenes that actually gets a laugh) into the mix, than something worthwhile should come out the other end, right? Sadly, no.