2069: A Sex Odyssey
- A Look Back At A Wild Look Forward
Right before the lights went low and the picture was about to start, I glanced around the theatre: to my surprise, most of those in attendance were either our age or older, putting the crowd in the 50+ demographic easily. If there were 300 people in the theatre, then a very, very small percentage were young people, a turnout which confused me slightly. After all, this was Mel Brooks, and didn’t people of all ages find Mel as hysterical as we did?
After the film spooled – and we were exhausted by laughter – I suffered an epiphany: why, naturally today’s young folks wouldn’t enjoy Young Frankenstein as it was made at a time when humor truly had few boundaries drawn around it. The script casually flirts with things like aggressive, not-exactly-consensual sex. There’s a scene involving an “abnormal brain” and how it’s eventually treated that some of today’s social justice warriors might find objectionable. And there’s an infectious, good-hearted bawdiness to so much of these zany performances, and Millennials are on record about what men can and cannot speak about to the opposite sex, so the nuance of another time and another place would most definitely be lost on them.
If Young Frankenstein served them some offense, then 2069: A Sex Odyssey would likely have their heads exploding!
From the product packaging: “Five sexy females from the planet Venus are sent to Earth to bring back sperm samples to their planet which is dying out because there are no men left on it. After they land they find that it’s not all that difficult persuading Earthmen to help them with their quest.”
Now, for the record, that plot synopsis is not exactly accurate. True, these Venusian lovelies come to our world in search of “the seed,” but the rest of it – the how they go about interacting with Earth males – is and isn’t consensual by the common definition. This is intended to be a comedy, after all, and it’s a long stretch from pornography, something that probably is assumed by the title alone. 2069 instead hits out at such targets as men’s willingness to jump in the sack with little preparation as well as women’s unwillingness to couple at a moment’s notice; and it does so an emphasis on social stereotypes of the early 1970’s, the period in which the film was made. Sex comedies of that era didn’t work without poking fun at some of mankind’s wildest generalizations (i.e. “all French women are great in bed” – these are Venusians and not French ladies), and I suspect much of the humor will be lost on today’s (ahem) discriminating viewers.
That said, 2069: A Sex Odyssey doesn’t break any ground on the narrative front: it at all times retains a straightforward comic focus, a loosely constructed farce poking fun at everyone by way of the timeless and perhaps useless ‘battle of the sexes.’ You have the town Mayor whose wife isn’t getting as much attention as the young ones. You have the traveling salesman who’s willing to “get it on” at the drop of some panties. You have the town constabulary who couldn’t make an arrest if his love life depended upon it. Willy Fritsch’s script paints with broad strokes (pun intended), always squeezing out fresh laughs or polite groans from the associated human antics and sexual innuendo. This is more Benny Hill than it is Ben Franklin, and that’s exactly how sex comedies were meant to be.
As someone who loves practical sets and effects, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that 2069’s spaceship interiors are fabulous. (Granted, they’re of a certain era in filmmaking wherein not every single detail was augmented with CGI, so there’s something to be said for appreciating a level of craftmanship going into these sets.) I shudder to think that this reasonably expansive spaceship bridge was simply built for a film which will undoubtedly be lost to the ages; more likely it was loaned out from another studio at a price 2069’s producers were willing to pay. It may not look like much to younger viewers who’ve grown up with that high-tech Apple stores quality, but this old-fashioned SciFi junkie liked it well enough.
The sad truth is that I’d say the current P.C. climate has probably pronounced films like 2069 dead at the box office long before they’re ever released much less made: you can’t make money – even a few bucks – off a society that’s constantly offended over the littlest misstep, and I can’t see them ever embracing a benign, fun-loving sexual romp. Why, sex is too serious a subject to poke fun at!
It’s a wonder most of them were ever born at all!
Recommended. 2069: A Sex Odyssey is perhaps a great example of the kind of storytelling simply not explored any longer, the harmless sex romp of men pursuing women just as much as women chase the men. It’s meant to be watched and then forgotten, a visual confection for a few laughs and nothing more. There isn’t a scene that isn’t a bit predictable, and – rest assured – absolutely none of it was ever intended to harm your delicate sensibilities. There’s a bit of nudity, true, but this is not a pornographic film.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Cheezy Movies, LLC provided me with a DVD release of 2069: A Sex Odyssey by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.