PROPERTY OF HULU
[TO THE POINT]
Genre: Drama. Romance. Comedy.
“Sex Appeal is a blast to watch.”
SEX APPEAL (2022)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"Avery, a teenager with a tendency towards perfectionism, enlists her friend Larson to help her prepare for her first time with her long-distance boyfriend."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
At first glance, Sex Appeal seemed like just another raunchy teen comedy anchored by recognizable comedic names like Fortune Feimster and Margaret Cho. I wasn’t familiar with the majority of the cast or the writer or director. But I love a good coming of age teen comedy and I was eager to see if Sex Appeal would bring anything new to the genre.
The plot of Sex Appeal is interesting and honestly, pretty fun. Avery (Mika Abdalla) is a high schooler who is a straight A student. She has aspirations to go to MIT and admittedly is a perfectionist. There’s an upcoming competition called STEM Con and Avery desperately wants to win it. Her long distance boyfriend Casper (Mason Versaw) will also be attending STEM Con and when he mentions that he’s ready to go all the way, Avery has a bit of a crisis moment. She worries about being bad at sex. In her tailspin she begins asking her three moms for advice and when that proves to be unhelpful she goes to what she knows: research. She enlists her best friend Larson (Jake Short) to do “experiments” with her for sex research. Of course things get messy along the way but the ending goes against the formulaic teen movie which was refreshing.
I had never seen Mika Abdalla in anything before and was pleasantly surprised. She was fantastic as the perfection-seeking Avery. Abdalla balanced Avery’s somewhat persnickety tendencies with excellent comedic timing that made her likeable. She handled awkward scenes with ease and had excellent chemistry with her co-stars. Jake Short was perfect as the dependable and sweet Larson. It was largely due to Short and Abdalla’s chemistry that made the movie work so well. It was easy to believe they were best friends. Avery’s moms (she has three) played minor roles but provided much of the humor in the movie. Fortune Feimster, Rebecca Henderson, and Margaret Cho play lesbians who are desperate to help their daughter navigate this new terrain. They’re over the top but in a fantastic way that will make you laugh. The trio bring just enough humor to make it enjoyable but they don’t overpower the teen story.
Sex Appeal is the first feature length film for director Talia Osteen. It’s a very solid effort for her debut. She is able to pull very believable performances from her young actors and keeps the pace of Sex Appeal zipping right along. Osteen doesn’t do anything revolutionary but to be honest she doesn’t have to. Sex Appeal could have been just another run of the mill teen comedy, but the acting and the story help elevate it to another level. Avery’s fellow teens know an extraordinary amount about sex, some of it correct and some hilariously incorrect. The fact that her school has a sex education class at all was pretty progressive. But the premise is fun and Abdalla and Short win you over with their chemistry and acting abilities.
The stand up comedians Feimster and Cho bring just enough humor to make it enjoyable but they don’t overshadow the teen story. Writer Tate Hanyok infuses the script with humor and heart and explores sex in a way that feels realistic. Sex Appeal will inevitably get compared to Booksmart as the premises are similar, but Hanyok and Osteen do enough to help differentiate it from its predecessor. Sex Appeal is a blast to watch with great acting performances and a universal theme of love that adds the right amount of heart to the story.