Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Big O: Parker Posey finds her bliss

In The Oh in Ohio, Priscilla Chase is told by her boss, as he promotes her to Vice President, "You're creative, and you're entirely predictable."

He says it like predictability is a good thing.

For the rest of this offbeat comedy, Priscilla proves him entirely wrong, to the point of almost losing her job when she is constantly interrupted--by a hidden pager set to vibrate--in the midst of a sales presentation. Of course, she succeeds anyway in getting a Scandinavian company to relocate to, yes, Cleveland. The city of Cleveland (all together: "Burn on, big river, burn on") is the unlikely co-star of this film, or as Parker Posey, who plays Priscilla, cheerleads: "We've gone from "The Mistake on the Lake" to "The Roar on the Shore."

You see, perfect Priscilla has a little problem: She's never had an orgasm. She's just not the kind of girl to masturbate, so her couples therapist (she's married to Paul Rudd, beefy in a beard) recommends a vibrator, she's off...and keeps getting off. Her high-school teacher husband leaves to mess around with his student (Mischa Barton), and Priscilla and her vibrator spend many happy hours together -- an average of 13.5 orgasms per day, as she tells sex-shop clerk Heather Graham (did I mention that Miss Perfect is just a little OCD?).

As the conventional wisdom goes, hijinks ensue, although not on the usual scale: Liza Minnelli plays a sex therapist teaching her female students to "Liberate your labia! Claim your clitoris!" and seems perfectly reasonable and wacky at the same time (is that playacting?). Danny DeVito is Wayne the Pool Guy, featured on a TV commercial reminiscent of the fictional pool commercial in Desperately Seeking Susan but no less funny this time....and Wayne turns out to be an unlikely friend to Priscilla.

Underneath the ironic circumstances and laffs is a subtext that suggests talking about sex is good, and finding what we want is even better...because it puts the "Oh" in Ohio.

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