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

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A series of comic sketches about every aspect of sex including, famously, the attack of the giant boobs and the anxiety of the humble sperm.

★★★★

One of Woody Allen’s ‘early, funny films’, this is a rare (mostly successful) film attempt at sketch comedy, with a run of self-contained, gag-driven segments answering the questions ‘Do Aphrodisiacs Work?’ (Allen as a medieval jester smitten with queen Lynn Redgrave but thwarted by a chastity belt), ‘What is Sodomy?’ (psychiatrist Gene Wilder falls in love with a sheep), ‘Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching Orgasm?’ (a smug, flat Antonioni parody), ‘Are Transvestites Homosexuals?’ (Lou Jacobi as a middle-aged schlub caught in women’s clothes), ‘What Are Sex Perverts?’ (a skit on 1950s game shows as a panel of celebrities on What’s My Perversion? try to guess the mystery kink of a guest contestant), ‘Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research Accurate?’ (an extended joke about science fiction films, with John Carradine as a mad sex researcher who unleashes a giant breast that rampages across the countryside like The Blob) and What Happens During Ejaculation? (Burt Reynolds and Tony Randall are brain-workers and Allen is a sperm in a human body run by a NASA-style mission crew).

Some sketches simply don’t work (the drag skit is especially pointless), but Allen crams in many funny, crass lines (like the sci-fi hero who snaps ‘I know how to handle tits’) and there’s one genuinely classic performance from Wilder, who is magnificent, absurd and bizarrely touching as the uppercrust shrink smitten with a sheep. Dr Doug Ross, George Clooney’s character on ER, is named after Wilder’s wool-loving character here. Though Allen was still a better writer and performer than director at this stage of his career, he stretches to effective parodies of early television, mad scientist horror films and high-tech Michael Crichton science fiction.

It may not consistently stay the distance, but the sublimely funny moments make up for an awful lot of misfires.