The People I’ve Slept With


People i've slept with A young woman is talking to her newborn baby.

“I love sex,” she says. “And some people thought it was a bad thing. But I’ve learned that a slut is just a woman with the morals of a man.”

Sudden, screeching rewind back in time, slightly less than nine months. The free-spirited adventurer in question, Angela (Karin Anna Cheung), has just learned that one of her adventures has resulted in an embryo. She considers getting an abortion — her gay best friend, Gabriel (Wilson Cruz) practically demands it — but her conservative sister Juliet (Lynn Chen) pressures/ fearmongers/ persuades her that her life would be better if she settled down to a normal, stable family life. “Settle down,” she exhorts. “Grow up, and be happy for once.” Somehow neglecting to notice that Angela is already pretty darned happy. And definitely neglecting to notice that Angela is making her own conscious decisions about her own life… pretty much the textbook definition of being grown up.

So Angela decides to keep the baby… and embarks on a comical search to figure out which of her many adventuring partners is the father. It’s a challenge: Angela’s partners are sufficient enough in number that she keeps track of them through what she calls “baseball cards,” Polaroids with personal stats scrawled on the back. But she narrows the possibilities down to the five men she didn’t use birth control with — and goes through an assortment of wacky hijinks to collect their DNA for paternity tests. Her heart is pulling her in one direction — toward Jefferson (Archie Kao), the sweetheart labeled on her baseball card as “Mystery Man” — but she’s bound and determined that she’s going to have a normal married life, which means the man she marries should bloody well be the man she happened to conceive with. Regardless of whether she actually, you know, likes him, and wants to spend the rest of her life with him.

Yes, I know. It’s another “shmashortion” movie, in which a woman who under any other circumstances would be off to Planned Parenthood in a nanosecond for an abortion mysteriously decides to keep the baby… because if she didn’t, it’d be a fifteen minute movie. It’s an annoying pattern. Noted. Annoyed. Let’s move on.

Because “The People I’ve Slept With” is, in fact, a movie worth moving on to. It’s an odd duck: a mutant offspring of a smart, quirky, genuinely funny character study/ comedy of errors, and a sloppy, under-written jumble of cliches and careless implausibility. But the good stuff is sufficiently good — and sufficiently uncommon — to make it well worth a look.

Especially for anyone interested in movie depictions of unconventional sex.

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Thus begins my latest Media Darling column on CarnalNation, The People I’ve Slept With. To find out more, read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to Carnal Nation — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Hitch says

    “But I’ve learned that a slut is just a woman with the morals of a man.”
    That’s a really cringe-worthy sentence for me. Belongs into the “stereotypes about men” category.

  2. David Harmon says

    The thing about those plot flaws… they’re actually realistic, in that reality is often far less “believable” than fiction!

  3. says

    Great review. Now I’m really curious to see this movie, as a sort of cultural study.
    @ Hitch. I agree. I wish it had been put as “a slut is a woman with the morals society ascribes to men,” or something like that.

  4. says

    Regarding your ‘Shmashmortion’ aside, I thought Seth Rogen had a good response to that accusation in his Playboy interview:
    ‘PLAYBOY: Knocked Up has been criticized for being too far-fetched. Could a stoned, unemployed slacker really hook up with a woman as hot as Katherine Heigl, even if she were blind drunk?
    ROGEN: The people who say that are just guys with ugly girlfriends. That’s all that is. [laughs] Honestly, I think that’s a bullshit complaint. Before I was in movies I dated women who were far more attractive than I had any right to be dating. Sometimes it just comes down to your personality. Saying otherwise is demeaning to women.
    PLAYBOY: How is it demeaning?
    ROGEN: Maybe my character in Knocked Up doesn’t have the greatest personality, but he has his moments. He’s positive, he’s funny—it’s not like he’s a horrible person. I think it’s a discredit to women to suggest they wouldn’t be able to recognize that a guy is kind and worthwhile even though he might be a little chubby. So basically, if a woman is attractive, that means she’s automatically an idiot and superficial?’

  5. says

    i believe in total freedom of choice for all people when it comes to reproduction. but i have to say: esp right now in this economy and with all the social and cultural uncertainty we’re experiencing, it seems like a really dumb idea to be a single mom, or to marry a lover from a one night stand. i can’t applaud choices like that, even as i’ll defend her right to make one.
    seconding Hitch. “morals of a man” is demeaning and stereotyping.

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