Sex Ed will premiere on opening night at the Portland Film Festival on August 26. Click here for tickets. And continuing reading for our review.
Fifteen years ago, Haley Joel Osment saw dead people and earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Sixth Sense. It was a film that immediately made him the “It Kid”, and rocketed his career into stardom, where he would work alongside Steven Spielberg, Kevin Spacey, and Robert Duvall. But unfortunately, as it goes with many child actors, Osment faded into a distant memory. That being said, 2014 looks to be the year of resurgence for the actor, as he’s finally embracing his older age, chubby appearance, and rather natural awkwardness. Osment starred in Will Ferrell’s The Spoils of Babylon, is set to star in Kevin Smith’s Tusk, and stars in Sex Ed, a raunchy R-rated comedy. It is also worth mentioning that Sex Ed ran a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise money for its production.
In Sex Ed, Osment plays Ed Cole, a 23-year old with an identity crisis, a complete lack of confidence with women, and a roommate (played perfectly by Glen Powell) who has enough sex for the both of them. In a desperate move to finally find a teaching job, Cole agrees to teach a bunch of kids in an after school program. It’s only when he meets the kids does he realize that they know very little about their own bodies, sexuality, and the natural “changes” that occur in puberty. It’s only fitting that he takes it upon himself to teach these kids some good old fashioned sexual education.
Surprisingly, Osment is very comfortable in the leading role, throwing out f-bombs and talking about getting laid just as any 23 year old virgin would. It’s not hard to believe he struggles in the sexual department, but unlike most sex-aimed comedies, Sex Ed showcases a character who has more than a hard on and an unopened box of condoms. Cole genuinely wants to do good and Osment’s resilience and earnestness make you believe he’s not just another guy looking for a key to the Promised Land. Of course, this is not stating that the film is a unique masterpiece, as it still suffers from age-old cliches, but it is a rather refreshing take on a tired story that manages to infuse new humor, charm, and insight.
Of course, as most raunchy comedies go, the film would be very little without its sensational supporting characters. Packed with recgonizable faces, Sex Ed delivers most of its laughs from the oddballs and lunatics that parade around Osment’s Cole. Matt Walsh, known for Upright Citizens Brigade and popping up left and right, delivers the most jokes, including a wonderful conversation about the sexual escapades of Modern Family‘s gay couple, Cam and Mitchell. He also exists as the authority figure who does not care at all, pours alcohol into his canned soda, and informs Cole that “A good strip club has to have a compelling theme. Otherwise, then you’re just jerking off in a warehouse.”. To counter the crazy advice Cole receives, he forms a friendship with his sexually experienced landlord, Sydney, played wonderfully by Parks and Recreation’s Retta. In fact, one could believe that Retta’s Donna from P&R could be the same character as Sydney, minus the network TV filter and sidekick Tom.
That being said, Osment takes the lead in a classroom filled with child actors. It is rather curious to see a former child star teach a room of child actors, but Osment pulls it off, thanks to a wonderful bunch of kids. At first, these kids rebel against the teacher, as they are their own combinations of outcasts, rebels, and nerds, but eventually come around and see the value in a teacher like Cole. While these tropes have existed for years, Sex Ed manages to change it up a bit, given the very graphic nature of the sexual education. But just as we were young and curious, so are these kids, who ask all sorts of questions you would never think of and suffer through a gruesome slideshow of STDs. And standing out against the rest are Kevin Hernandez (who starred in the underrated, yet cancelled, Surviving Jack) and Isaac White (Lee Daniels’ The Butler).
For a comedy that exists in an ever growing, rather redundant genre, Sex Ed manages to carve out a little niche for itself and successfully tells a simple story with some outrageous characters. While those surrounding Cole are larger than life, Osment is able to bring a naturalness to the movie while toning it down just enough that it is not too hard to swallow. There may be a few surprises and a handful of cliches, but Sex Ed is genuinely good and clocks in at a comfortable 90 minutes. It is not the R-rated film that will change the genre, but it fits comfortably where it needs to be and does what it needs to do without trying too hard to impress us. And given the over-aggressiveness of raunchy comedies these days, it is a nice change of pace.
The Good: A calm, yet more mature Osment leading a wonderful cast of crazy characters and hormone-soaked teens
The Bad: Minor recycled jokes and ideas that are proven a bit too difficult to escape these days
The Sex: Safe, with condoms, and the fear of God and obtaining sexually transmitted diseases deep inside your soul (but you’ll still do it anyway…because it’s sex)
Fun Fact: Bill Kennedy, the writer of the film, wrote eight episodes of Netflix’s House of Cards
Since there is no trailer for the film yet, check out this interview that Haley Joel Osment and director Isaac Feder at OPBWeb
Sex Ed also stars Lorenza Izzo, Castille Landon, Chris Williams, and Ray Santiago. The film does not yet have a release date.
The world premiere of the film will be on Tuesday August, 26th at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR at 5:30pm for the red carpet, and 7:00pm for the film followed by Q&A with cast and crew.