The Horror Honeys: 'Consenting Adults': Thou Shalt Not Be Thy Neighbor's Rube

'Consenting Adults': Thou Shalt Not Be Thy Neighbor's Rube

A Revenge Honey Erotic Thriller November Review with Linnie

Consenting Adults (1992)

When you sit down to watch an erotic thriller starring Kevin Fricking Kline and Kevin Fricking Spacey, you expect to see a four alarm, five panty dropping film. And you'd be about a third right. Alan J. Pakula (Sophie's Choice, All the President's Men, Presumed Innocent, Starting Over, Klute... fucking hell, why was this movie so bad?!) directed a film from Matthew Chapman's script (Color of Night, Heart of Midnight, What's the Worst that Could Happen?... oh. That's why) that started off with all of the intrigue and sexy promise you could want from an erotic thriller, that somehow managed to squander all of the good will it built up in the beginning to become Lifetime-movie lame in the second and third act.

So with a skilled director like Pakula, and a talented cast, where did everything go wrong? Sadly, Chapman isn't the only one to blame. This synaptic misfire is on everyone, and frankly, I haven't been this disappointed in Kevin Spacey since K-Pax.

I wouldn't trust Spacey when he's smiling like that. Just, as a rule.
The Story: Boring suburban couple Richard (Kline) and Priscilla Parker (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) are boring. It isn't until wild and crazy couple Eddy (Spacey) and Kay Otis (Rebecca Miller) move in next door that they realize just how boring they are. Eddy is an insurance guy, but a scam artist who gets his jollies out of filing false insurance claims. Kay is a blues singer, with the personality of a cinder block, which is apparently irresistible. Eddy and Richard decide to swap wives, but without telling the wives, sneaking into each other's beds after dark and boning the women without their consent (for the record, that's rape). Except Eddy is working another scam, and when Kay ends up dead, it's up to Richard to prove he's not a killer... he's just a douchebag.

Realistically, you raped a woman. So the handcuffs are valid.
Consenting Adults is a strange sort of movie, one that sets up a film focusing on the sexual repression of suburbanites, jealousy, and the dangers of total inhibition. But it never delivers on any of that. What starts as a sexual comedy of errors/crime film in the vein of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Love turns into a standard, and sadly dull, drama barely worthy of LMN on a Wednesday afternoon. The script squanders any intrigue set up by a solid premise on a lazy noir that may have worked if anyone but Spacey had bothered to try and sell it, but they didn't.

Please don't act. Ever. Again.
Considering the cast on board for Consenting Adults, it should have at least been mildly elevated by the performances, but it wasn't. Remotely. Kevin Kline seemed to be on auto-pilot, which is a shame considering how charismatic an actor he is. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was so slight, she barely existed. And Kevin Spacey seemed to have his manic energy turned up to an eleven, which is entertaining, but not terribly in place with the rest of the movie. But the actor that stands out like a sore thumb is Rebecca Miller, who prior to Consenting Adults, I knew only as a writer/director/Daniel Day Lewis' wife. Miller is an excellent writer and her film The Ballad of Jack and Rose is beautifully directed but for the love of the goddess and all that is holy, she is not an actor. Sure, she can sing. But when she speaks, or attempts to emote, she looks like a deer in the headlights and it's hilariously distracting. Whoever told her to focus on writing and directing and stop acting deserves a damn medal.

He has a Miami Vice-like quality in this movie.
I've seen my share of bad erotic thrillers. I've seen more than a few that were a damn nightmare to sit through. But Consenting Adults is by far the most disappointing that I've seen so far. This movie had a brilliant director and a cast made up of (mostly) talented performers, and yet a shitty script tanked it barely thirty minutes in, dragging everyone down with it. Which is a terrible, terrible waste, leaving you wondering what may have been, had a capable screenwriter been in charge.

Throughout Erotic Thriller month, we are going to be working on a far more stringent rating scale than usual. That means that if I REALLY like a film, it will probably get a three star rating. If I love a film, four stars. If I want to take a movie behind the middle school and get it pregnant, that's a five star rating right there. So with that in mind, Consenting Adults gets:

Erotic Thriller Rating: 1 pair of dropped panties out of 5

Consenting Adults is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (if you're in Canada), Vudu, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD

Would you fall for Kevin Spacey's shenanigans?
Tell me why on Twitter: @linnieloowho