The Oh In Ohio

on July 14, 2006 by Sheri Linden
"The Oh in Ohio" boasts a playful, offbeat exuberance, not to mention the wonderful Parker Posey and Paul Rudd. But its quirkiness goes only so far. While moments in this tale of sexual dysfunction are as refreshing as its underused Cleveland setting, it remains more a set of interlocking sketches than a compelling story.

Posey and Rudd play the Chases, a couple at the unraveling end of the marital rope. With her self-possessed, Bouvier-style glamour, perky Priscilla is prettily repressed: She has never experienced an orgasm and can barely talk about sex. After 10 years of trying, Jack has traded in his self-worth for a scruffy beard and beer belly. He drives a rusty Volvo and shambles through the halls of the high school where he teaches -- hello! -- biology. They're two planets spinning in opposite directions. Soon after go-getter Priscilla, who works in marketing to entice businesses to Cleveland, is promoted to VP -- for being "creative and predictable" -- Jack succumbs to the overtures of a precocious honor student (Mischa Barton) who is determined to alleviate his pain.

Screenwriter Adam Wierzbianski and director Billy Kent, feature first-timers both, take their characters through a less-than-cohesive plot toward a gentle sense of discovery that's wacky and lovely in its resistance to movie-romance convention. But for all the soulful work by Rudd and delightful comedy from Posey, "Ohio" doesn't achieve the kind of short-story insights it feigns. For much of its running time it feels pointless, riffs on advertising and the American obsession with sex notwithstanding. Into the mix go the almighty vibrator, a strained bit with Liza Minnelli as a guru who preaches the "value of the vulva," and an uncredited Heather Graham as a sex-store employee eager to provide personal assistance. But it's when Danny DeVito's backyard-pool entrepreneur enters the action that the film finds its heart. His scenes with Posey have an unexpected charm as Priscilla learns the art of letting go. Starring Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Mischa Barton, Miranda Bailey, Keith David, Liza Minnelli and Danny DeVito. Directed by Billy Kent. Written by Adam Wierzbianski. Produced by Miranda Bailey, Francey Grace and Amy Salko Robertson. A Cyan Pictures release. Comedy. Unrated. Running time: 93 min

Tags: Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Mischa Barton, Miranda Bailey, Keith David, Liza Minnelli, Danny DeVito, Billy Kent, Adam Wierzbianski, Francey Grace, Amy Salko Robertson, Cyan Pictures, Comedy

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