by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Liam Neeson as ALFRED KINSEY
Laura Linney as CLAIRE MCMILLEN
Chris O’Donnell as WARDELL POMEROY
Peter Sarsgaard as CLYDE MARTIN
Timothy Hutton as PAUL GEBHARD
John Lithgow as ALFRED SEGUINE KINSEY
Tim Curry as THURMAN RICE
Oliver Platt as HERMAN WELLS
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Bill Condon
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I missed “Kinsey” in its in initial release. That’s just as well, I suppose, considering I got a chance to watch it outside of any hype or controversy. While the subject matter of “Kinsey” is titillating, the movie itself isn’t exactly the edgy, daring film you might expect. Maybe that’s because while subjects like masturbation, homosexuality and wife swapping were taboo in Kinsey’s time, they’re everyday topics today.
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In choosing the single-disc or double-disc DVD, the clear choice is the double-disc. Sometimes a second disc in a DVD release is nothing more than a grab at an extra ten dollars retail for nothing more than weak behind-the-scenes footage or talking heads. However, in many ways, I found the extra features on “Kinsey” far more interesting than the movie itself.
The movie wasn’t bad, mind you. It just wasn’t great. Last year was the era of biopics, and after seeing “Ray” and “The Aviator,” I had grown weary of the tag-line “based on a true story.”
This film follows the career of Alfred Kinsey, controversial sex researcher from Indiana University. In the 1940s and 1950s, he released two volumes on human sexuality that not only caused quite a furor in his day, but also revolutionized our understanding and views on sex.
Even today, Kinsey is not free of controversy. If you don’t believe me, hop on the Internet and search his name in any of the many conservative forums. He’s blamed for everything from our nation’s high divorce rate to a surge in sex offenders. It is this controversy that makes the background of the film far more interesting than the film itself.
In both the director’s commentary and a 90-minute documentary about the film, you’ll hear stories of how some folks were so adamant to keep this film from being made that they released Liam Neeson’s mother’s contact information in Ireland to put pressure on the actor to not do it. And I thought we lived in a free country. Sheesh!
After “Kinsey” flopped at the box office, these pundits danced little dances of joy, cheering on the concept that America had rejected Kinsey and all he had to say about masturbation, homosexuality and pornography. Yeah right. That explains why “Will & Grace” is still a top-rated show and pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country.
I personally am sick and tired of hearing people make up excuses for the success or failure of a movie on every ground except the merits of the film. “The Passion of the Christ” was a hit not because America has a new-found faith. It was because it was an emotional, stirring and powerful film. “Fahrenheit 9/11” didn’t break all documentary records because Americans were fed up with George W. Bush. It did so because it pushed all the right buttons for those who didn’t like the President.
Similarly, “Kinsey” didn’t do that well because it was just a decent movie in a flood of far superior biopics. It’s still a decent film, if you can get past the pretentious acting of Laura Linney. (God, I long for her humble days with the film “Congo.”) Kinsey is presented with plenty of flaws - and plenty of conflict. He’s not glorified as a saint, just as a groundbreaking researcher. Director Bill Condon assembles a slick film on a very modest budget and employs brilliant filmmaking techniques without overproducing the style.
In addition to the excellent documentary “The Kinsey Report: Sex on Film,” which chronicles the struggles behind the film, there’s also 20 deleted scenes, a gag reel and a short documentary on the “Sex Ed. at the Kinsey Institute” exhibit.
For the more daring souls, there’s also an abbreviated Interactive Sex Questionnaire, which measures your tendencies towards sexual stimulation and sexual inhibition. While not to be used as a home diagnosis of clinical sexuality, it’s not a bad game to run with your spouse or significant other.
Specifications: Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. DTS 5.1 Surround. Widescreen (2.35:1). French and Spanish language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.