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‘The Oh and Ohio’ goes through the motions

Film about trying to achieve orgasm has slight laughs, but ultimately fakes it
/ Source: The Associated Press

As if the idea weren’t disturbing enough that a woman could spend much of her adult life without ever having experienced an orgasm, “The OH in Ohio” also asks us to accept Danny DeVito as a sex symbol — and, ultimately, the provider of our frigid film heroine’s long overdue release.

On a slightly more plausible note, the movie also suggests that Mischa Barton, glamorous star of “The O.C.,” could pull her hair back in a ponytail, put on thick-rimmed eyeglasses and present herself as a Harvard-bound biology nerd. As if.

Then there’s the scene in which Liza Minnelli, swathed in a frothy pink muumuu, teaches masturbation classes in her living room, offering hand mirrors to timid women and urging them to explore and even name their genitalia. It’s a moment that would be shudder-inducing if it weren’t so surreally amusing.

These are all funny ideas, and there are many more where they came from in the film debut from director Billy Kent, with a script from first-time screenwriter Adam Wierzbianski. But that’s all they are: concepts in a farce executed by characters who feel more like pawns than fully realized people.

Think of “The OH in Ohio” as the film equivalent of faking it in the sack. It can be a good time, but by the end you’re just going through the motions, and not completely satisfied.

Such has been the eternal state of Parker Posey’s character, high-powered advertising executive Priscilla Chase. She seems to have a great life in suburban Cleveland with husband Jack (Paul Rudd) — great car (a Ford Thunderbird convertible), great clothes, great house.

But Priscilla has never had an orgasm and she doesn’t care. Similarly, the film doesn’t care to flesh her out enough to enlighten us as to why she might be frigid. She just ... is. And we just have to accept it.

Jack, meanwhile, has been slowly crumbling under the weight of his inability to satisfy his wife in bed. Like Matthew Broderick’s beleaguered civics teacher in “Election” — which “The OH in Ohio” resembles at times — Jack, a high school biology teacher, arrives at school each day increasingly desperate and disheveled, which makes him vulnerable to the advances of his adoring star student, Barton’s Kristen Taylor.

She hops into this beat-up car and offers to fix him — and in no time they’re sharing a joint in a cheap motel room, then rolling around in bed all night, inspiring Kristen to proclaim that Jack has “a magnificent penis.”

At the same time, Priscilla has reluctantly agreed to visit a sex shop to procure some, uh, battery-operated assistance. (She also gets propositioned by the cute blonde behind the counter, played by an uncredited Heather Graham.) Eventually she finds herself too busily buzzing to notice or care that Jack is inexplicably absent — but even her new toy doesn’t completely fulfill her, because it’s not a person.

Enter DeVito as Wayne the Pool Guy — literally and figuratively. A fixture on local television for decades with his low-budget commercials, Wayne strikes up an unlikely friendship with Priscilla. And even though they make absolutely no sense together on paper, they have a good time and they’re good for each other. (DeVito, while not exactly an Adonis, is sweeter and more likable here than he’s ever been before, especially compared to the cantankerous persona he’s crafted for himself.)

Posey, meanwhile, has always delighted with quirky roles in quirky movies — she’s built a career on it — and this is no exception. But she can only accomplish so much with what’s given her.

Ultimately, the smile that flashes across her freckled face from the most unexpected place is radiant, but it isn’t enough.