When a kiss isn't really a kiss

The release of Mike Binder’s Search for John Gissing from Anchor Bay / Starz kind of rescues this 2001 farce from oblivion, and for it’s first two-thirds, Binder’s film is amusing for the verbal barbs and meanness that ping-pongs between an American arbitrator (Binder), his wife (Janeane Garofalo), and the English snot (Alan Rickman) out to save his own position in a snooty firm.

Sexual innuendo, a bit of boobery (this time from Lost’s Sonya Walger) and the brow-beating of the male ego are the film’s strongest qualities, which Binder had previously poked fun at in The Sex Monster (1999) as well as his short-lived HBO series, The Mind of the Married Man (2001-2002).

American filmmakers have made sex comedies, but several European countries (Britain, and the ludicrously prolific Italy easily come to mind) have gone through humorous filmic waves of bums, willies, beavers and knockers, and not necessarily aimed at teens and college kids the way American filmmakers have done.

Canada has some of that European sophistication, but unlike Quebec, there’s still a conservative nature that seems to keep provocative discussion of and depiction of sexual behaviour within safe parameters, and keeping the raw talk within the genres of thrillers, shockers, or weird stuff.

Ontario has moved a bit more forward from its tightwad status and the shame-fostering rulings of the old Ontario Censor Board (Boo! Mary Brown! Boo!), but Young People Fucking (2007) is a major leap ahead in terms of balancing humour, intelligence, and the rude and the crude.

In the English campaign art, it’s been branded YPF as well as the more familiar Young People F**cking, which is strange, considering the French title, Jeunes adultes qui baisent, is a literal translation of Young People Fucking.

One suspects the logic is that allophones or bilingualists not possessing a grasp of basic French are ‘protected’ from the F-word and its apparent ability to instill a need to instantly copulate, whereas those versed in Francais, perhaps even through the acquisition of French during high school years, are more emotionally stable and culturally mature to handle the words Fuck or Fucking.

C’est un peu bizarre, oui?

My own grasp of French, which had been degenerating after Grade 13 but apparently is still sound after having read Georges Michel’s French interview with composer Lalo Schifrin (to be reviewed shortly), is perhaps dated, because Baiser used to mean Kiss, but at some point the verb underwent a transformation and became the F-word. I’m not sure when it devolved into a more friction-heavy verb, but that explains the fuss over the intriguing but ultimately shallow and dull thriller Baise-moi (2000), which I thought meant Kiss Me, but soon after learned it meant something less genial.

YPF, or Young People Fucking, is finally available on DVD, and Maple’s release includes a great commentary track from co-star/co-writer Aaron Abrams and director/co-writer Martin Gero. The duo get a bit crude at times, but like the film, there’s some honest statements about dumb hang-ups and insecurities which not only keep people all wound up and twitchy, but force filmmakers to reign in ideas that could’ve made a fine movie.

Kudos to the lecherous and witty duo for sticking to their vision, and realizing a smart R-rated ride.

Coming next: Brendan Fraser discovers a more adventurous way to reach Italy’s Bay of Naples in New Line's Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D (2008).


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