The ensemble, independently produced Canadian comedy Sex After Kids certainly has a lot of ground to cover, and I guess it wouldn’t be going too far out on a limb to say that on a technical level it’s certainly overstuffed and could excise a story or two from its framework. But really any negativity towards the project really ends there. Filmmaker Jeremy LaLonde weaves together no less than several slice-of-life vignettes together quite well for a well rounded, realistic, and often quite funny look at various stages of post-child birth ennui, included but not limited to the complete deterioration of one’s sex life.
Eventually all of LaLonde’s storylines will meet-up, but they’re just as strong on their own as they are a part of a greater whole. A former big-time socialite (Amanda Brugel) is trying desperately to convince her increasingly bored husband (Peter Keleghan) that she’s still sexually attractive after giving birth. A lesbian couple (Mary Krohnert and Kate Hewlett) struggle with ideological issues and an increasing divide caused by only one of them being the genetic parent to their kids. A young, single mother (Zoie Palmer) fumbles her way through getting back into the dating pool, and entrusts her baby’s welfare to her reformed bad boy brother (Paul Amos). A couple that hasn’t had sex in almost a year after the birth of their kid (Ennis Esmer and Shannon Beckner) try to get some help from a sex therapist (a really game Gordon Pinset, in a killer, brief role). An older couple (Jay Brazeau and Mimi Kuzyk) tries to get back on the sex train now that their youngest (Katie Boland) has left for the big city.
It’s a lot, and as often is the case with many of these kinds of films, some storylines are given a lot more time and space to develop than others. There’s enough material here for a couple of movies, but thankfully LaLonde never makes the film feel like a bunch of sitcom pilots strung together. Each situation is unique in terms of their gravitas and silliness, but they never tilt too far in either direction to turn the whole movie into a self-serious downer. It balances the lighter comedy with some inspired wit and a love for the characters within the story. LaLonde wisely gives his cast just enough backstory to work with before loosely letting the actors do their own thing within the framework. It feels assured and not overthought.
While the Ennis/Beckner storyline probably stands out the most and benefits from some great moments involving Pinset and Boland (as the young, headstrong, sexually irrepressible co-worker who really wants to hook up with her boss), Brugel’s storyline comes close behind and benefits from some incredibly brave and lovingly self-deprecating performance that finally gives way to some great dramatic work amid the chuckles. Also equally as brave as Brugel is a nicely understated Brazeau, who displays a lot of warmth and a great ability to take comedic risks as an older gentleman fumbling wildly to get his mojo back. But the biggest scene stealers are easily Palmer and Amos who could have had a whole movie on their own. Individually Palmer is great, but when paired alongside Amos’ hedonist the film hits a comedic gold mine. The bulk of the dramatic work falls to Krohnert and Hewlett, and they handle it quite admirably in a story that also works quite well as a look into step parent relationships, as well.
Still, it’s hard not to think that at just a bit under two hours that it feels a little long in the tooth. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. The good will and pointed observations being made will make even the most jaded viewer remember the old adage about the weather: if you don’t like what’s going on, give it a minute and it will change. Thankfully, I liked all of it and there’s definitely something for everyone to like in this one.
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