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“My Awkward Sexual Adventure” is a Different Kind of Canadian Film

April 22, 2013

By John C.

My Awkward Sexual AdventureDespite the attention grabbing title and several scenes that are sure to get the restrictive NC-17 rating across the border, My Awkward Sexual Adventure is a lot more charming than you might expect.  After premiering at TIFF last September, and securing a coveted spot on Canada’s Top Ten, the film opened in limited release this past Friday in Toronto.

Jordan Abrams (Jonas Chernick) is an accountant in Vancouver, happy with his quiet life.  But he is also bad in bed, prompting his shallow girlfriend Rachel (Sarah Manninen) to dump him because she usually falls asleep during their “gentle time,” which is what he calls their uneventful intimate moments.

So he takes a trip to Toronto to get advice from his womanizing friend Dandak (Vik Sahay), and has a chance encounter with Julia (Emily Hampshire), a stripper who agrees to be his “Sex Yoda” if he helps get her finances back in order.  Broken up into a series of chapters, what ensues is a film that is as raunchy as you can expect, with sex scenes that are considerably more hardcore than what you might normally see.

Much of the humour pushes the envelope in multiple ways, but there is also a surprising sweetness to My Awkward Sexual Adventure in its handling of the story, which I found to be quite refreshing.  Although from the settings to the references this is every bit a homegrown production, the raucous crude humour and heart of the film also give it the feel of a more mainstream comedy, and the screenplay has already been picked up for French and Korean remakes.  I can imagine the story having international appeal, but the performances are a big part of what makes the original work.

Jonas Chernick comes across like a charming mix of Steve Carell and Ed Helms, with a Canadian flare that makes his performance feel original.  This is a character who finds himself staying overnight with a stripper, and decides to help organize her finances instead of hopping in bed with her.  It’s moments like this that help win us over, even when we are cringing from all of the sexually charged laughs.  Emily Hampshire shines in a role that is equal parts sexy and self aware, providing the perfect counterpart to the nerdy main character.  Vik Sahay is a good comic foil as the ubiquitous best friend of the main guy, providing the wise cracks to offset the awkward situations.

The sharp and witty screenplay for My Awkward Sexual Adventure was also written by Jonas Chernick, a passion project filled with many instantly quotable lines and some insightful things to say about the importance of having a balanced relationship.  “You won’t consider a threesome,” Rachel complains to him in the first few scenes.  “Why would I want to have a threesome,” he responds, “so I can disappoint two people at the same time?”  The film is brought to life by strong direction from Sean Garrity, who really knows how to stage an effective comedic set up.

I first saw My Awkward Sexual Adventure on a screener before TIFF, and the beauty of any film festival is that you get to discover offbeat little films that you might not otherwise have the chance to see.  I’m glad that this one was given a proper theatrical release, because the film is surprisingly accessible for adult audiences and it deserves to find a market.  First and foremost, My Awkward Sexual Adventure shows Canadian filmmakers who just want to have fun, and they have their hearts squarely in the right place with a film that is as sweet as it is raunchy.

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