[IMDB link] From the writers of Heathers, one of my favorite movies of all time, comes an incredible gimmick: A man receives an email containing a list of names of everyone he has ever had sex with, and everyone he ever will have sex with. At first he thinks it’s an April Fool’s joke. Of course, his wife-to-be is only [highlight for spoilers] number 26 out of 101 on the list. Hijinks inevitably ensue. That was all I needed to know to know I’d probably enjoy this. I love a good gimmick movie. Little did I know that it would be deeper than expected, and exceed my expectations by a remarkable amount.

CAST: The leading man is played by Simon Baker, but I do not really know of him. Notable to me was Winona Ryder‘s presence, playing a character that has similarities to her character in Heathers. I was also very surprised to see Mindy Cohn (aka Natalie Green–the fat chick–from The Facts Of Life) playing Simon Baker‘s lesbian secretary. It was quite fun to to see her go to a club with the intention of [highlight for spoilers] hooking up with these 2 famous lesbian models, only to have Simon Baker “cockblock” her.

BAD STUFF: There’s only one bad thing about this movie: The 2 major sub-plots seem like they are a bit stretched to relate with each other. However, this is already a completely unrealistic movie to begin with, so this is no detriment. I actually don’t think there’s anything else bad about this movie. However, some people will doubtlessly view it as a bad romantic comedy; as an excuse to parade a bunch of beautiful women on screen; as a flimsy fantasy movie that never really explains the premise; or as a repeat of What Women Want, only with fate instead of mind-reading. But they would all be wrong.

ORIGINS ARE UNNECESSARY: Sex & Death 101 isn’t about the origin of the sex email — The movie in fact goes out of the way to NOT tell you how the email is generated, by having a government agent explain the origin of the sex email in the vaguest possible terms, ostensibly for national security. Word for word, the explanation was: “Some people you don’t know found some things you don’t know in a place you don’t know… And these things have been very useful in making a new thing – one that apparently knows everything.” And that’s all you’ll ever know. And that’s all you should know. This is a gimmick movie, and a gimmick shouldn’t really need so much explanation when it is a given.

Sex & Death 101 isn’t about sex, either. Granted, dudeface gets laid [highlight for spoilers] 75 times in the movie — but you have to realize that having the list literally drives him mad. There’s even a voice-over at one part, where he declares, “This is when the madness started.” At one point, he considers [highlight for spoilers] having sex with a corpse, just to prove to the list that the list doesn’t control him. And this is the actual central theme of the movie: Fate. Immutable and unchangeable fate, and what you can do to escape it.

FATE: Imagine knowing the future and being helpless to control your own fate.
Imagine burying the list because it drives you mad.
Imagine digging it back up again.
Imagine the conflicts that would come to mind when faced with the toughest of choices: Do you decide to accept the rare gift of knowing your destiny, and live a helpless life, unaltered by changes that you try to make, knowing exactly where you will end up? (“The Destination” approach.) Or do you decide to forsake that knowledge, and live life knowing that you have a defined destiny — but then purposely going out of your way to ignore that destiny. (“The Journey” approach.) And here’s where the real conflict is — Neither “The Destination” approach nor “The Journey” approach are acceptable to a reasonable individual.

“The Journey” approach still acknowledges your immutable fate, but leaves you wandering like The Fool (from Tarot carts). You may wonder if the person you are with is going to be “the one”. After all, your own emotions are absolutely meaningless; the list still controls you, and you know it — even if you don’t know the names. Are you going to waste years in a relationship with someone, knowing that the list is what ultimately controls who you will be with? Aren’t you curious about what’s going to happen next? The answer is right there. All you have to do is… Switch over to “The Destination” approach.

But “The Destination” approach sucks too! Now instead of wondering if the person you are with is “the one”, you know that they aren’t. And since you know who all the next people you’re going to have sex with, you could exhaust the list really quickly. The last name implies death, doesn’t it? Do you really want to rush to the end of that list? Choose: Sex, or Life? “The Destination” sucks as much as “The Journey”. It is best for one to never receive such a list.

IN SUMMARY: I actually found this movie to be surprisingly deep. Although the ending is not a surprise, and you will probably see it coming, I still found it incredibly powerful and moving. I left this movie incredibly impressed, and my mood was elevated for days on end. Heathers ruled, so it’s no surprise that something just about as good came from writer Daniel Waters. I’ve watched around 90 movies so far in 2008, and I’d place this near the very top. I give this no less than a 9.5/10 and 5 stars on Netflix.

MOVIE QUOTE: “I’m certain that some very interesting things will occur this evening… Your penis going into her vagina will not be one of them. But have a lovely evening.” (No, it’s not as low-brow of a movie as that quote makes it sound.)

Mood: avoidance
Music: Ministry – End Of Days (Pt. 2)