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Julien Hernandez’s gay L.A. sex romp is short on jokes

Julien Hernandez is the writer/ director of “Sex, Politics, and Cocktails,” and also stars as Sebastian Cortez, a straight filmmaker hired to do a documentary about gay relationships, who learns something about himself while studying the topic.

The low-budget, homemade comedy, “Sex, Politics, and Cocktails,” is like an extended version of “Sex and the City,” only set in L.A., featuring gay men instead of straight women and, most significantly, stupid instead of sophisticated.

Writer-director-star Julien Hernandez opens his film promisingly, with some cute one-liners about being 30 and single.

“You’re basically fucked—or not,” he says.

The character Hernandez plays is a straight but curious filmmaker named Sebastian Cortez who is hired by a guy named Guy (Dave Emerson) to make a documentary about gay relationships. Astonishingly, Sebastian does not know any gay people in Los Angeles, so he asks a woman friend of his, Daria (Marisa Petroro), to introduce him to some queer men.

Happily, Daria hosts a cocktail party, featuring plenty of margaritas and three gay guys telling their cock tales. Michael (Seth Macari) dates only guys under 25; Paulie (Alex Douglas) has a firm set of rules about exactly when to sleep with someone and Dante (Don Max) is in a relationship with a Eurotrash dude that may or may not be on the skids.

Meanwhile, Sebastian starts questioning his sexuality when he meets several potential male lovers over the course of his research.

“Sex, Politics, and Cocktails,” claims to be about issues of love, monogamy and alcohol, but it is, in fact, a loosely strung-together collection of dumb jokes about anal sex, dildos and masturbation.

A lengthy, unfunny episode depicts “bossy bottoms”—first with an accented “doctor” defining the term live via satellite—and then, to reinforce the point, via a drawn out segment featuring Daria demanding anal action from her exhausted male lover. Little of this is humorous.

Hernandez apparently believes that no sexual activity is too embarrassing for Daria to perform. She straps on a dildo early on for her bisexual boyfriend Nick (Paul Lekakis), and dresses up in a penis costume in another. Laughs do not ensue.

To his credit, Hernandez does not ask any of his cast members to do something he would not perform himself. In what is supposed to be one of the more “hilarious” scenes, Sebastian pleasures himself anally with a peeled banana coated in baby oil before he turns up at the hospital to have the mess removed. This scene manages to be even more painful to watch than it sounds. “Sex, Politics, and Cocktails” may not be shy about discussing sex—there is an extended scene set in an erotic boutique in which a woman demonstrates penis enlargement devices—but there is not that much sex shown on screen. Even though most of the cast of attractive actors drop trou during the film, the sexual content is not as high as this rundown of vignettes suggests.

Hernandez’s film is, however, distinguished by a visual style that uses various storytelling techniques—from split screens, to overlapping photographs, speed-up (fast forward) action sequences, testimonials and typography—but it is a shame he does not have more interesting stories to tell. The four main characters are all equally infantile and so selfish that it is little wonder that they are single. Exaggerating for comic effect is fine, but Hernandez gilds the lily.

The cast is amateurish, with Paul Lekakis the sole exception. Sadly, he has the least amount of screen time.

Late in the film, when Sebastian meets Billy (Lonnie Henderson), to whom he is attracted to but insists on insulting repeatedly, he says, “I have a knack for turning a desperate situation into a pathetic one.” The same can be said about “Sex, Politics, and Cocktails.” In Hernandez’s hands, the desperate characters become pitiable, and that makes what could have been an enjoyable, sexy comedy neither enjoyable nor sexy. It’s a sign of the film’s true failure that the outtakes played over the closing credits are more amusing than anything in the 90 minutes that came before them.

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Updated 5:14 pm, July 20, 2018
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