The End of Sex Review | Comedy at Half-Mast

by Andrew Parker

The by-the-numbers and obvious Canadian comedy The End of Sex will appeal mostly to audiences who want to see something purporting to be edgy, but they don’t want to risk being offended or grossed out. It’s a bawdy-ish comedy about middle aged people trying to get their bedroom mojo back, but one packed with jokes that are careful to never cross a line and observations so realistically cliched that they wouldn’t be out of place at open mic night at a comedy club. The End of Sex isn’t devoid of giggles, but this is sitcom level material that never fully springs to life.

The End of Sex is another collaboration between director Sean Garrity, co-writer and star Jonas Chernick, and co-star Emily Hampshire, following their similarly dirty minded and more ambitious 2012 film, My Awkward Sexual Adventure. This time out Chernick and Hampshire star as Josh and Emma, a tired, but seemingly happy married couple who have just sent their two young daughters away from a week long winter camp experience. At first, they don’t really know what to do with all this liberation and free time, eventually settling upon the decision to spend the week having a bunch of loud, dirty sex. But after years of not being intimate, Josh and Emma discover that the old approaches and things that once turned them on aren’t working anymore. They vow that by the end of the week – which will mark their anniversary – they’ll do it, and they’re willing to try anything new to try and make that happen.

That means attempting a threesome with one of Emma’s clingy co-workers (Melanie Scrofano), going to a swinging sex club, taking drugs, and possibly even sleeping with other people in their lives altogether, with artist Emma eyeing a colleague who annoyingly has no filter (Gray Powell) and ad agency drone Josh leaning towards a much younger woman in his office (Lily Gao). As such, The End of Sex is little more than a variety of set-ups and scenarios that begin, progress, and end with little fanfare or surprise. The End of Sex moves from bit to bit with little energy and very basic levels of humour that suggests the audience for this might not be middle ages types like the main characters, but an even older crowd that would find this stuff edgier than the intended demographic.

Everyone involved with The End of Sex has a lot of talent and are almost always a welcome sight in other projects, but nothing is landing here. Even the usually reliable Colin Mochrie, who has a small role as Emma’s dad, can’t get more than a light smile out of this material. Most scenes play out flat and awkward. The big comedic set pieces often drag out longer than necessary, almost as if the actors are trying to find the actual humour in the scene while they’re acting it out. It comes across like a film where the script was thrown out at some point in favour of improvising most of the dialogue and zingers, but that approach only works if the material is funny enough to stand on its own. Here, it isn’t.

The final third of The End of Sex – when things get a bit more heartfelt – is an improvement over the floundering comedy that makes up most of the running time, but the overall patness that precedes it makes the pivot into serious territory harder to swallow. The End of Sex is too wishy-washy, square, one-dimensional, cliched, and safe to make much of an impact, and the one thing a comedy about the art of getting it on should be is boring. The characters, jokes, scenarios, and overall vibe is as basic as these things tend to get. It’s not unwatchable, but it’s very easy to forget.

The End of Sex opens in Canadian cinemas on Friday, April 28, 2023.

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