SEX APPEAL review

by Taylor T. Carlson



SEX APPEAL is directed by Talia Osteen. The film stars Mika Abdalla, Margaret Cho, Mason Versaw, and Jake Short.


Avery is an intelligent high schooler, regularly pursuing academic activities, but in the process alienates herself from friends and family and indulging in more “regular” teenage activities. When her long-distant boyfriend hints that he wants to take their relationship to the next level, she decided to put her brain to the test, developing an app to determine how to give the best possible sexual experience, utilizing a longtime platonic male friend as a test subject. But will sparks fly between the two, and will Avery’s app be the success she’s hoping for?


SEX APPEAL is an interesting twist on the usual teen sex comedy. While ultra-modern with its emphasis on apps and modern teen life and technology, the spirit hearkens back to that of 80s films that covered the same subject. The two leads in the film steal the show, and seeing their awkward teenage experiments together makes for something laugh-worthy. It’s just too bad the other aspects of the film don’t come together as well as they should.


Many shout-outs to the two leads in this film for giving a fantastic performance. I wasn’t familiar with either of these two up-and-coming teen stars coming into the film, but their awkward nature together makes for some hilarious moments. There’s definite chemistry here, and their performances and scenes together certainly sold me on the awkwardness of their relationship (or lack thereof). These moments, often accentuated by hilarious metaphorical scenes to illustrate the bliss of sex and orgasms, are truly laugh-out-loud funny. The app itself, due to a familiar voice (or rather an impersonation of one) is pretty damn funny too, but I won’t spoil that here.


While the supporting cast is solid as well, they feel most like figureheads that the movie keeps in reserve for whenever they’re required for a particular scene… and that’s about it. So many of these characters had potential that’s sadly wasted here, as it feels like everyone’s around just long enough for what the plot requires.


The writers of SEX APPEAL also clearly aren’t aware of how high schools work. The movie is apparently set in an alternative universe while students can randomly disrupt a class and speak about whatever they want, with no punishment while the teacher just stands aside while they’re allowed to speak their piece. Has there ever been a high school that allows this behavior? If I’d ever acted this way in my school days, I’d have been sent to the dean’s office and sent home to have my butt kicked by my father.


The film, for the most part, gets the balance between comedy and drama fairly well, but it becomes far too heavy handed in its third act. I do like how the movie doesn’t go for the most obvious happy ending (It wasn’t as predictable as I expected), but it certainly loses its way near the end when it forgets it’s a comedy.


SEX APPEAL is a hit-and-miss comedy. The two leads are the movie, with everything and everyone else not quite hitting the mark despite their best intentions. If you’ve got Hulu and you’re not easily disgusted or offended by material and dialogue of a sexual nature (there’s surprisingly little actual sex action taking place on the screen, and what shows up is pretty tame), it might be worth streaming once, just don’t expect the greatest teen sex comedy of our time.