by Ben Browne, author of The Popcorn Bucket.
If you’re offended by movie shagging, don’t click the links.
Movie sex is very different from actual sex. You don’t need me to tell you that – you have brains. Most of it seems to take place in a parallel universe where bed sheets are L-shaped and there’s no such thing as cellulite or beer bellies. Where are the scenes where one of the lovers has to grovel and bargain for the act to even take place? Where’s the bit where one of them swears the other to secrecy and informs me that if I tell people about this, they’ll deny it? Guess that’s why they call it “Hollyweird”, eh?
Compiling this list, I realised there are very few films that actually contain decent sex. In your bog-standard film, they’re usually eye-rolling affairs that you have to endure in order for the film to move on. Sort of like unskippable YouTube adverts. At worst, they grind everything to a halt and ensnare you in a web of awkward hilarity. This isn’t a definitive, all-time, chiselled-into-concrete top ten, just ones that came to mind when posed this question. This isn’t in any particular order either, so don’t tell me number 6 should be higher or whatever.
1) Daredevil (2003):
Daredevil was a lacklustre superhero outing about a blind lawyer imbued with superhuman abilities who deals with court cases by day and deals out vigilante justice by night. Today it’s only really known as one of the lowest points in Ben Affleck’s career and for introducing the Goth warblings of the aptly-named Evanescence to the world.
Fucks funny: Future husband and wife, Affleck and Jennifer Garner, get their slow motion writhe on in front of a roaring log fire. They touch up each other’s battlescars in a big old heap of cliché. This isn’t the worst offender ever, it just neatly encapsulates most of the laughable tropes associated with love scenes. Last year’s The Dark Knight Rises has a similar scene, but is thankfully handled slightly better. If you could make it through the attached intellectually offensive Entertainment Tonight snippet, you’ll have picked up that we have studio interference to thank for this shite scene. Mercifully, when it came to the director’s cut, this scene is missing- just one of the many reasons the director’s cut is the superior version.
2) The Sweeney (2012):
The Sweeney is a terrible film based on the gritty ’70s cop drama of the same name. It starred Ray “Cock-er-ney” Winstone and Ben “Plan B” Drew. Having been tasked to review it, I resented every minute of its runtime and couldn’t wait for its laughable finale (an underwhelming car chase through a dreary caravan park) to be over. You know you’re in trouble when even an appearance by Damian Lewis can’t save your film.
Fucks funny: This one is based on the participants, rather than the actual sex, so call me shallow if you want. I had to look away when Ray Winstone and the lovely Hayley Atwell nip off for some celebratory thrustings in a pub toilet. I’ve been a bit in love with Ms. Atwell since she played Peggy Carter in the underrated Captain America film. She’s bloody brilliant. So you can imagine the last thing I want to see is Gravelly Ray jamming his tongue down her throat and mindlessly humping her like a dirty old bulldog. Reading that back, I sound oddly possessive of Ms. Atwell. I’m not. It’s just some day she will be my wife. She WILL. I carved it into my arm and everything.
3) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012):
I don’t actually mind the Twilight franchise. Most of the films are godawful, but then I’m not in the target demographic. I wouldn’t call myself a fan by any stretch, but I certainly don’t possess the searing hatred for it people on the Internet seem to be consumed by. Yes, it is terribly written and yes, there are some insidious moral undercurrents about love and sex due to author Stephenie Meyer’s religious background, but it’s mostly pretty harmless. Breaking Dawn Part 1 also featured a terribrilliant sex scene where the couple destroy a four-poster bed in an Austin Powers-esque bit, but Part 2 takes the cake.
Fucks funny: Drippy newlyweds Bella and Edward (Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) do the maritals in a quaint little cottage. Annoyingly, the film skimps on the details on how two undead beings with no blood running around their bodies can even have sex. It’d be like trying to poke a sock into a bucket of sand. Being rated a 12A, the filmmakers are severely limited in what they can actually show. Usually to get round this, they have the hackneyed close-up of a hand clenching the bedsheets to imply orgasm. Breaking Dawn Part 2 thinks it knows better than that by CGI-ing a golden sparkly mist around Bella’s head when she reaches O-Town. When this happened, I hooted with laughter. It’d be a genius bit of parody if it wasn’t so earnest.
4) The Rock (1996):
It’s the cool thing to hate Michael Bay and most of it is with good reason. However, the only reason I sometimes feel the urge to defend him is because he’s responsible for The Rock, one of my favourite films. If you haven’t seen this thick slab of fun starring Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery and Ed Harris, I urge you to do so. It’s your typical “Bayhem” atypically coupled with a strong script, genuinely great performances from the lead actors and a surprisingly complex and sympathetic villain.
Fucks funny: Any Nic Cage sex scene is a bad thing. I just don’t want to see or think of the guy on the job, quite frankly. Stanley Goodspeed’s rooftop love scene with his fiancée makes me cringe every time I see it. His oily commentary coupled with his infamous unhinged expressions cause me to smile and grimace at the same time. This is probably the least offensive entry on the list because the scene is predominantly played for laughs. Also, no-one in their right mind would get down to business to the strains of Elton John’s “Rocket Man”.
5) Monster’s Ball (2001):
Monster’s Ball made some ripples back in 2001 but is now only really remembered for nabbing Halle Berry the Best Actress Oscar for her role as a Leticia, a woman whose husband is on death row. It’s one of those films that seems important at the time, gets nominated for a buttload of awards but fades away from the public consciousness like, well, Evanescence.
Fucks funny: In what should be a touching union of two lost souls finding comfort, Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton go at it hammer and tongs. I have two problems with this. One, Berry’s constant refrain of “make me feel good’ at the start which she strains out with like a toddler having a tantrum in a crowded shopping centre. Two- ol’ William Robert Thornton Esq. who goes through the motions grunting like a winded pensioner and with an unwavering look of boredom on his face.
6) Gigli (2003):
Widely known as the other other low point in Ben Affleck’s career (Jersey Girl represent!) Gigli (pronounced jeel-yee, not “giggly” although the latter is more fitting) is a turgid romantic “comedy” that deals with some slapped together mobster shit. It starred Bennifer Mark I (J-Lo instead of Garner) and was rightfully a box-office bomb.
Fucks funny: After a millennia of leaden dialogue and zero chemistry between Larry (Da Fleck) and Ricki (Lopez), Ricki and Larry return to his apartment and after some painful exchanges and some kissing, J-Lo leans back on the bed and says one of the worst lines in the history of cinema (probably): “It’s turkey time…Gobble gobble!” which has got to be the least attractive cunnilingus come-on ever, apart from something like “Fancy frenching the clam?”. The resulting sex is yawnsome too, but you won’t notice it because you’ll still be reeling from les mots diabolique.
7) The Matrix Reloaded (2003):
Resulting in Phantom Menace levels of disappointment, the hugely anticipated sequel to game-changer The Matrix was released in 2003. The film had a strange preoccupation with the tedious “real world”, meaning audiences were forced to sit through long stretches of boring people talking about their boring problems instead of watching leather-clad badasses flipping off walls ‘n shit killing people multiple times over before they hit the ground. Revolutions is the stinkier turd though.
Fucks funny: Famous anti-actor Keanu Reeves gets hot and heavy with the none too thespianally gifted Carrie-Anne Moss whilst a city-wide underground rave goes on. Swirling dreadlocks, bare feet, nipply tanktops and sweaty slow-motion make this one a killer. The monotonous pulsing music doesn’t help either.
8) The Terminator (1984):
Now, I love me some Terminator. The first film is a stonking classic and Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the best sequels ever made. One of the things that separates The Terminator from its sequels is that at its heart, it’s a love story spanning time itself between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor (Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton). It’s actually quite touching, but will hurt your head if you think too hard about all the timey-wimey stuff.
Fucks funny: Reese and Connor get funky because they fancy each other and also because of the small matter of saving humanity blah blah blah. It’s the early ’80s so some things can be excused, but by gum, is this bad. The whole act is accompanied by a tender piano rendition of the kick-ass Terminator theme which doesn’t work at all. Also, Reese grips on to Connor’s tits like he’s holding a ladder steady for a builder. Coupled with the fact that they both make faces like the Shepherd’s Pie they had for dinner is repeating on them and you’ve got a fabulously bad love scene. Rest of the film still rocks the shit though.
9) Showgirls (1995):
Showgirls is a legendary capsule of cringe. Fresh from not being able to act in Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley transfers her unacting skills to play Nomi Malone, a drifter who just wants to make it big as a showgirl in Las Vegas. It’s an exploitative, entertainingly crappy film with plenty of nudity on display. You get the feeling it was always destined for a late night Channel 5 slot. It’s also worth checking out if you haven’t, if only for the scene I’m about to describe.
Fucks funny: Nomi seduces Zack (Kyle MacLachlan) and revenge-fucks him in a pool, tastefully surrounded by neon palm tree lights. It all starts fine enough, a little champagne drizzle here, an underwater suck there, but soon the pair unite and Nomi starts thrashing and flailing around like a dolphin having electroshock therapy. As with most of the scenes on this list, the soundtrack takes it to the next echelon of awful.
10) The Room (2003):
Man, 2003 was a bad year for sex wasn’t it? I wonder what went wrong. Anyway, Showgirls may be bad, but The Room makes it look like Citizen Kane. This low-budget pet project of weirdo Tommy Wiseau is awful. Everything is off about this film. The dialogue, the acting, the story, the music- everything. It’s pretty much a comprehensive list of how not to make a film. Having said that, it’s funnier than 90% of the comedies out there. It has gained cult status as “the worst film of all time”, but I disrespectfully disagree. The Room, whilst apocalyptically terrible, manages to be incredibly enjoyable. I would say the worst films out there are the ones that aren’t even entertainingly bad. There are often special screenings of The Room around the country and you owe it to yourself to go to one. You’ll never forget it.
Fucks funny: Take your pick. Like the rest of the film, the sex scenes are fantastically shite. Everything is so unremittingly dreadful from the atrocious music to the painful acting. Even the humping is off, at times it looks like he’s thrusting into her thigh or just past her altogether. How bad do you have to be if you can’t figure out what goes where? My personal vote is for any time we see Wiseau’s arse. I could have quite happily lived without knowing what it looked like.