There was a recent study which found that newborns often cry during the night because they’re trying to prevent their parents from reproducing again. This is the same sort of environment that the light comedy, Sex After Kids with tag line, “By any means necessary” comes from. This film explores sexuality and the social issues associated with child-rearing through a diverse cast of characters. The main topic is that of a lack of sex – particularly for those parents who still want and need it – and this is explored and the ramifications of this on relationships are shown.
Sex After Kids was written and directed by rising director, Jeremy Lalonde. It is only his second feature and the film does show some promise, despite having a significant amount of flaws. The story follows an eccentric, ensemble cast whose lives are forcibly interconnected and covers a diverse and eclectic range of experiences. The first couple we meet are new parents, Jules (Shannon Beckner) and Ben (Ennis Esmer) who haven’t had sex in a year. The reason is that the former has become scared of her husband’s penis and she is also exhausted by the demands of her young child. She does however, find solace in a rather absurd and clichéd form, in the family washing machine.
The next couple are two lesbians (Kate Hewlett and Mary Krohnert) who bicker and argue over child-rearing and other important decisions. They also grapple with the idea of motherhood (for instance, is one of them more of the child’s mother because she gave birth to the kid?) Then there’s the power couple where the husband (Peter Keleghan) is having difficulty finding his wife (Amanda Brugel) – herself a former model – attractive, while the new Mum deals with her post baby weight. It’s a similar story for the older couple of empty nesters, Horton and Dolores (Jay Brazeau and Mimi Kuzyk) who haven’t done the deed in so long that the very proposition of “it” was first considered by Dolores to be a joke.
The film also includes two single parents. There’s the Dad (Kris Holden-Ried) who is too fussy when it comes to prospective partners. There is also a liberated Mum, Lou (Zoie Palmer) who got herself pregnant. Lou is perhaps the most interesting character of the lot and Palmer does an excellent job delivering the one-liners and jokes. The biggest problem with a lot of the characters however, is that their back story isn’t properly fleshed out so they succumb to being a mix of stereotypes and caricatures of real people.
The issues with the characters are also not helped when they are added to some rather absurd and ridiculous situations (like Lou thinking that impersonating the writer, Margaret Atwood, would make her a perfect seductress. And in another date she actually manages to drug her potential lover). These situations mean the story is transformed from one that could have been quite relatable and meaningful to the world of stupid, forgettable farce.
Sex After Kids ambles along at times and visually it has a rather low-budget look and feel. It is unquestionably a flawed film but underneath it all it does still manage to have a warm heart and at its core it was a good idea that failed in its execution. The film gets at the confusion, frustration and dissatisfaction felt by a variety of parents, but it also makes light of some awkward situations. It’s a story that should resonate at least in part with most parents but one can’t help but feel a little unfulfilled after watching this pleasant yet cliché-ridden, comedy romp.
Review score: ONE A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Sex After Kids was released in 2013 and is currently available on DVD