The Opposite Of Sex

on May 22, 1998 by Cathy Thompson-Georges
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   Our narrator, teen tart Dedee Truitt (Christina Ricci), announces at the outset, "Don't expect me to turn out to have a heart of gold, because I don't," and we're off and running on one of the most intriguing little road movies to bump down the pike in a while. Dedee, 16, pregnant and harder than nails, ditches her dismal family life in Louisiana to throw herself on the tender mercies of her gay half-brother (Martin Donovan), a small-town high school teacher. Far from blossoming into grateful young womanhood, she seduces brother Bill's hunky lover Matt (Ivan Sergei) and takes off for California with the befuddled Matt in tow. Hot on their heels are Bill; Lucia (Lisa Kudrow), a fellow teacher with a yen for Bill; the earnest father of Dedee's baby (William Scott Lee); and local sheriff Carl Tippett (Lyle Lovett).
   "The Opposite of Sex" is a splendid surprise, both blackly hilarious (Dedee's acid-tongued voice-overs puncture every moment of creeping sentimentality) and genuinely touching. Ricci grows irrevocably with this role from a "child actress" to an actress, unqualified, and she rips into Dedee's nastiness with zest. With a bad dye job and an instinct for other people's weak spots, Dedee is a cross between "Poison Ivy" and Holden Caulfield. Also changing pace is Kudrow, here playing the world's more repressed woman (Lucia's big flirtation with the unconventional is pronouncing her name "Loo-sha") instead of her trademark dizzy blonde. Only an ending that wraps up all too tidily mars this walk on the trailerpark side. And even then, Dedee is there with one more barb to puncture the mood. Who would have thought that `the opposite of sex' would turn out to be fun?    Starring Christina Ricci, Martin Donovan, Lisa Kudrow and Lyle Lovett. Directed and written by Don Roos. Produced by David Kirkpatrick and Michael Besman. A Sony Pictures release. Comedy. Rated R for strong language and sex-related dialogue and sexuality. Running time: 105 min.
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