I wholeheartedly believe that we’d still be living in the 80’s if the 80’s hadn’t caught AIDS. The shock of a new STD that couldn’t be solved with a penicillin shot in the ass was too much for the decade to take, and somehow having to wear condoms made us more sensitive, thus giving us the Sensitive Guy and movies where bad things only happened to people who deserved it.
Comedy rebelled against the Sensitive Guy with foul mouthed comedians like Sam Kinison and Dice Clay, and the skyrocketing success of shock jocks on the radio. I remember watching Sam and Dice on HBO. With my grandmother. Even she thought they were hilarious. She was one of a kind. Dice had runaway success after his HBO special “The Diceman Cometh,” but before ’88 he wasn’t as well-known, except for an appearance in a Rodney Dangerfield showcase and a recurring part on Crime Story.
He had his own movie 2 years later in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, but I actually like his role in Casual Sex? a lot better. He’s more under control and played for laughs instead of trying to be the guy insulting everybody. Even the Diceman can be tamed, though in this movie he’s called The Vin Man. “I’m the best from the East, I’m a wild ‘n crazy beast, I’m the Vin Man!”
The movie centers around Lea Thompson and Victoria Jackson as two girls trying to have sex in the 80’s without getting the AIDS. It’s based on a play and it shows, as the movie begins with them on a black stage talking about how easy sex used to be, and how hard it is to get a nice hard one now. Yep, it’s a romantic comedy, but it’s got Dice Clay and nudity to keep the guys entertained.
The gals decide to go to a Spa Resort to meet some Healthy Undiseased people, and hop the bus from L.A. out to the sticks. There they meet a variety of 80’s douchebags – the cold analyst, immature guys, and the topper, The Vin Man. His line is “I came all da way from New York ta meetchoo.” He’s got the pompadour, a chest like a bathroom rug, and of course the Dice attitude.
Lea gets hooked up with him at the social dance that night, but he doesn’t get very far. The girls give up and head back to their room with SNL star Mary Gross, who plays her twitchy character. And she also shows them lewd gyrations and things men were not meant to see her do.
Dice meets Stacy at the funny hat social.
The girls get attached to two guys; Victoria Jackson likes a psychiatrist, and Lea likes a trainer who wants to be a musician. The psychiatrist is the kind of guy who puts the “anal” in analyst, and dumps Victoria right before she’s about to get the sex she craves. Instead, she ends up alone the next night, talking to the Vin Man on the beach.
Various interludes include an escape to the nude beach, where we are treated to that late 80’s Puritanical invention, the side boob. Up until the mid-80’s, we got the gratuitous breast; then the side boob reigned, and now we have Apatow and the Gratuitous Wang. To save us from corruption by boobies, the gals daydream face-down on the beach.
Victoria dreams about her doctor finding that she has “herpes simplex I and II, trichomonas, gonorrhea, acute immune deficiency syndrome related complex, vulvar lesions, secondary syphilis, venereal warts, and a potentially unbearable case of crabs.” Her doc is the moustache guy from Not Necessarily the News, an HBO comedy show from the 80’s.
Victoria does get lucky with the unemployed musician, but you can imagine how this is going to work out, if you know girls who’ve dated unemployed musicians. They hit it off and head back to her apartment, but she soon finds out all he owns are a few dirty towels and a guitar, and his idea of contributing to the household is buying waffles.
While she’s stuck in this nightmare, Victoria hits it off with a shy personal trainer named Jamie, and the Vin Man asks around for relationship advice. Someone gives him The Pretend You’re Sensitive Handbook, and he studies it dutifully.
When Lea finally kicks out her deadbeat boyfriend, she comes back to get Victoria, only to find that now she’s the lonely one. And the Vin Man is spouting funny attempts at being sensitive, like “I respect your strength, Stacy, and I think you’ve got a lot of potential!” As only Dice Clay could do.
Dice trying to be Sensitive.
When Lea heads back home, defeated in her quest for sex with a guy who’s not a helpless manchild, Dice humbly asks for a ride back to the bus station and they talk about relationships. The story works because it takes a while to see where things are going. The girls head back home, Victoria with her new boyfriend and Lea alone; if you can imagine Lea Thompson not having her pick of the guys.
Some time later she gets a letter from the Vin Man, about how he’s changed as a person. It’s one of the funnier parts of the film. Us Jersey boys were amused when Dice walks into a library and there’s a newspaper box reading “New Jersey News.” Also that all the guys are guidos going “oooh! ahhh!” over a bimbo walking by.
New Jersey imagined by Los Angelenos.
They meet again on New Year’s Eve; he’s driven across the country to see her. Nowadays this would be called stalking, and a restraining order would be filed. But in rom-com land, all is forgiven. We see them six years later on Christmas, and the Vin man is now a family man, tied down by 2 kids and a Golden Lab.
Happy ending!, gg-gg-g-guh! Ohhh! Unbelievable!
Overall, it’s a good 80’s rom-com. It doesn’t have a great reputation because the girl humor is clever, but isn’t always funny for the guys. And Dice Clay wasn’t very popular with women. So the movie has a small fanbase. Namely, me.