by Christopher Campbell
If you need to rest your eyes at any point during the 146 min. comedy epic Funny People, your best bet is to do it early during a sequence in which Adam Sandler’s character has back to back sex with a couple of female fans. The second of these scenes is mildly amusing, but there’s just no need to put the images in your head of either Sandler with a face full of breasts or the actor taking a girl from behind.
There are some actors we don’t need to see in a sex scene, humorous or otherwise, and Adam Sandler is one of them. He’s of a generation of comedic actors who starred in movies where they get the girl but where there’s no need for gratuitous sex and nudity. Unlike most of his successors, including Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Dane Cook, he was never a pin-up in addition to being a funnyman. Even if he was better looking than some of his brethren, such as David Spade, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Rob Schneider.
Still, Adam Sandler isn’t the last male actor we’d want to see in a sex scene. He’s not even in the bottom ten, which we present in a list below:
Tom Arnold’s sex scene with Maggie Gyllenhaal in Happy Endings is actually not as bad as you might imagine, but there’s still something very unsettling about having to watch the former Mr. Roseanne Barr in such a moment. Fortunately, there’s probably not much call for him to appear in another hot and heavy scene, because in spite of the actor’s surprisingly endearing performance in this Don Roos ensemble dramedy, Hollywood likely still thinks of him only as “Mr. Stupid.”
Although one of his earliest films was the sex comedy Bachelor Party, Tom Hanks has grown into America’s favorite gentleman actor. To see him do a sex scene now might be a little like seeing a young James Stewart do one. It was uncomfortable enough to see Hanks sitting in a hot tub filled with naked women in Charlie Wilson’s War. And even in his earliest stage of turning into a serious actor, we had trouble watching him in the beginnings of lovemaking in Forrest Gump — though that was primarily because his character was so awkward. Apparently Hanks did shoot some sex scenes for Angels & Demons, but they were cut for time. Yet most media outlets reporting on the deletion of these scenes were in agreement: nobody wants to see Hanks having sex.
He’s done many sex scenes throughout his career, and he will continue doing them regardless of what we think. So the best we can do is avoid them, whether or not they’re as creepy as usual. Keitel is really not a bad looking man, yet his speech impediment certainly gets in the way of his sexiness. Plus, he chooses too many roles where he’s able to gratuitously flap his junk about and then use it for his characters’ misogynistic pleasure. Our least favorite Keitel sex scene is in Jane Campion’s Holy Smoke, and while it may be disturbing primarily for Kate Winslet’s urinary seduction, the scene would be a lot more watchable if Keitel wasn’t in it.
There are plenty of sex scenes featuring less attractive old guys than Sir Ben Kingsley, but none of them make us think of Gandhi getting it on. In all fairness, Kingsley is a great enough actor that we can almost forget about his iconic role while watching him do it, but last year he had to go and be creepier than usual by making out with Mary-Kate Olsen in one film (The Wackness) and making love to Penelope Cruz in another (Elegy). He’s now completely ruined himself in our minds for all future sex scenes he desire to take on. No matter the age of the actress he beds.
Not technically an actor, Marilyn Manson has appeared in a few movies, including as a porn star in David Lynch’s Lost Highway and as Rose McGowan’s lover in Jawbreaker. Seeing him in any film makes us cringe just a little bit, but when he’s got a sleazy mustache and simulating sex we have to avert our eyes completely. Maybe it’s because we’ll never get that penis-tuck photo from the inside of the “Lunchbox” single out of our heads. In addition to never needing to see Manson in film sex scenes, we hope to never see him having sex (simulated or not) in his music videos, either. His onscreen lovemaking with girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood in “Heart Shaped Glasses” is still haunting us. And as long as we’re going after music stars doing sex scenes, we’d like to make an honorable mention of Eminem in 8 Mile. The rapper shows he can act in that film, and we’d like to see him do more work (he’s also in Funny People as himself), just as long as we don’t have to watch him in another sex scene.
In an IFC.com list of 50 Worst Sex Scenes, writer Stephen Saito begins discussion of a scene from Novocaine by writing, “for a whole host of reasons, comedians shouldn’t do serious sex scenes.” It’s the same reason that the Funny People sequence is uncomfortable. And it applies to Steve Martin’s pre-sex scene with a nude Claire Danes in Shopgirl as much as it does his more full-on-banging scene with Helena Bonham Carter in Novocaine. The one reason we’re hoping Martin sticks to schtick like The Pink Panther rather than continuing his evolution into more serious fare is that we’d rather not have to one day see his naked ass thrusting towards some young starlet.
While people tend to disturbingly celebrate anytime a female child star comes of age and does a sex scene, with boys-to-men it’s different. The worst sex scene by a former child actor may be Corey Haim’s in Blown Away (opposite former child actress Nicole Eggert, whose nude presence delighted many). But the most dreaded was perhaps Daniel Radcliffe’s more fully nude sex scene in the theatrical production of Equus. The scene in December Boys isn’t as graphic, though it’s still difficult watching Harry Potter lose his virginity on screen no matter how it’s depicted. It might get easier seeing Radcliffe have sex in movies as he gets older, but we doubt we’ll ever stop picturing him as the little boy wizard, and that will always make such scenes unsettling.
Adam Sandler’s Funny People costar, Seth Rogen, was humorous and genuine enough in his sex scenes in Knocked Up to almost grant him a free pass from this list. Even if many viewers didn’t want to believe that a guy so unfit and unattractive could be in those circumstances with a beauty like Katherine Heigl, we were completely okay with the scenario. Then Rogen had to go and seemingly date rape Anna Faris in Observe and Report and it was all over for him. Now he’s all skinny and we still don’t want to see him in another sex scene ever again. As much as it was difficult watching Sandler bang two ladies in Funny People, we were glad that Rogen was given no sex scenes this time around.
Proving that you don’t have to be unfit to make this list, Sylvester Stallone gets a mention for being too muscular and making the majority of us look bad. Actually, we’re not that jealous of his body so much as grossed out by it. Specifically we never need to see Sly’s too-in-shape buttocks ever again, as that’s pretty much all we got a glimpse of in his Specialist sex scene with Sharon Stone — at least we think it was Sharon Stone; Sly’s ass and bulging back muscles kept crowding the shots.
Like the similar-looking Radcliffe, Elijah Wood is a former child actor who has made his way into grown-up fare. And like Radcliffe, a certain fantasy franchise is making our acceptance of this fact difficult. Watching him in a sex scene with the beautiful, older Leonor Watling in The Oxford Murders is twofold uncomfortable thanks to our associations with Wood as the kid from Radio Flyer and as Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. The additional faults that he’s neither a good actor nor a good-looking one don’t help him, either, so there’s little to convince us that he’s worthy of being in such scenes.