Runtime: 1 hr 58 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell
The movie is oft-times funny and sometimes sad but, on the whole, is rather dull, making sex about as exciting as flipping through an anatomy textbook.
Review by: SteveRhodes
Added: 3 years ago
KINSEY, by writer/director Bill Condon (GODS AND MONSTERS), is a by-the-numbers biopic about a famous scientist, Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson). It covers all of the bases but does it with such a matter-of-fact approach that the subject might as well have been about different ways to cook grilled cheese sandwiches instead of the actual topic of Kinsey's work, human sexuality. The movie is oft-times funny and sometimes sad but, on the whole, is rather dull, making sex about as exciting as flipping through an anatomy textbook.
Laura Linney, one of my favorite actresses, gives a lifeless, one-note performance as Kinsey's wife. She stands by her man, no matter how much flack he gets from 1950's moralists, and shares one of his loves, his bisexual assistant, played without much impact by Peter Sarsgaard. (Sarsgaard was terrific last year as the editor in SHATTERED GLASS.) Chris O'Donnell and Timothy Hutton play Kinsey's other two assistants. The movie's favorite scene is a recurring one as Kinsey and his assistants crisscross the country interviewing a wide variety of adults of all ages about their sexual habits. The main thesis that Kinsey comes up with is that supposedly "deviant" behavior is anything but. And that all of the sexual activities that almost no one claims to engage in, almost everyone does.
We follow Kinsey from his twenty years of collecting over one million specimens of a type of small wasp to his publication of his best selling books on sexuality. A tireless, driven man, Kinsey is a workaholic who only sporadically demonstrates that he has anything other than a clinical understanding of the subject of his life's work. In short, he is generally the type who would rather talk about it, ad nauseam, than do it. He drills his researchers, reminding them to approach their interviews with complete detachment. The movie itself approaches sex so mechanically and pedagogically that it almost turns one off of the activity entirely. Maybe the film is secretly a sinister plot by the Abstinence League.
For all of its shortcomings, KINSEY does provide a good history lesson -- watching it is like taking Sex Ed 101 as a required college course -- and some good laughs. John Lithgow plays Kinsey's sexually repressed father. The father, a constant lecturer on the wages of sin, preaches in the opening sequence that the zipper is an evil invention because it "provides speedy access to moral oblivion." The father is an utterly ridiculous figure whose main purpose is to provide someone whom the audience can thoroughly despise and eventually pity.
If you always wanted to know the back story of this man who shocked the nation with his books, this movie does that thoroughly. But if you wanted to know more than just the facts, KINSEY leaves you unsatisfied.
KINSEY runs a little long at 1:58. It is rated R for "pervasive sexual content, including some graphic images and descriptions" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.