Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I don’t have problem with sex, even though I can safely say that before watching John Cameron Mitchell’s ‘Short Bus’ I’d never seen a guy blow another guy, but there it was.  What a sheltered life I’ve lead up to now.  But I do have a problem with shitty movies though, and once we peel away all of the fucking, preaching, and prosthelyzing in ‘Short Bus’ what we are left with is a rambling ninety minute mess of a movie.

Soon-Yin Lee is Sofia, a miserable couples counselor, as opposed to a sex therapist, who oddly enough cannot, as has not achieved an orgasm.  When miserable lovers James (Paul Dawson) and Jamie (PJ DeBoy) come to her office with their own set of problems, she ends up spilling her own guts about being ‘pre-orgasmic’.  Seeing that as a major problem, the two men invite Sofia to a little New York everynight sex party called Short Bus, hosted by noted transvestite Justin Bond, who plays himself, which means I should probably know who he is.  I guess the Short Bus is really a lot more than just a sex party, though there is plenty of fuckin’ going on.  It’s a concert venue, has a girls empowerment room, and a film room among other things so it’s more like Disney Land for the terminally trendy and horny.  At Short Bus, Sofia meets the incredibly miserable dominatrix, and frustrated artist Severin (Lindsey Beamish) who has taken it upon herself to help Sofia find the ever elusive big O. 

I gotta hand it to Mitchell in some sense because he gets a lot of the heavy sex stuff out the way real early into the proceedings.  Even before we learn a single characters name, James fellates himself, which is an ability that I’m sure helped snag him this plum role, Sofia and her husband screw in conceivable possible position, as well as a

few inconceivable ones, and Severin beats some guy into ejaculatory bliss.  With that out of the way, we settle into the narrative of the film, of which there really isn’t one.  What ‘Short Bus’ happens to be is a string of unconnected moments held together by one unsympathetic miserable character to the next unsympathetic miserable character.  Some may watch this and call the lack of structure in the story ‘daring’, ‘cutting edge’ or ‘avant-garde’.  I’ll go ahead just call it ‘tedious’, ‘boring’ and ‘nonsensical’.  Seriously, if ‘Short Bus’ had no graphic sex, no dildo insertions and no homosexual three way in which one man sings into another man’s ass (which admittedly you don’t see everyday), would anybody even be talking about this thing?  No sir, we wouldn’t.

The French have been fuckin’ in movies for years and to far greater effect than what is offered in ‘Short Bus’.  ‘Basie Moi’, yeah, they fuck all through that movie, and it was a fairly shitty movie to boot, but the fact that folks were actually having sex in it was far less of an issue than the actual content of the film itself.  Here in the good ol’ USA however, John Cameron Mitchell manages to convince a group of actors to let him film them having sex and we have a group on one side of the isle calling ‘Short Bus’ daring and Brilliant, and a group on the other side of the isle calling a travesty and an abomination.  The truth of the matter is that ‘Short Bus’ is neither.  If it’s daring and brilliant showing people having sex on film, then ‘Debbie Does Dallas’ is daring and brilliant.  Shit, ‘Debbie Does Dallas’ had better acting and much better story anyway, but it’s classified as pornography so I can’t put on my ascot and discuss its social ramifications over a Bailey’s spiked latte.  Those that consider it an abomination, if that claim is based on the sex alone, then we would also consider the paintings of Ruebens and Balthus abominations as well.

To quote soon to be former Arizona Cardinal Football Coach Dennis Green, ‘If you want to crown his ass, then crown his ass’.  I’m not quite ready to place the genius crown on Paul Cameron Mitchell’s head just yet because despite what you may have heard, ‘Short Bus’ without the sex is just a crappy exercise in tedium.  ‘Short Bus’ with the sex is crappy exercise in tedium with a woman walking around with a vibrating egg in her vagina thrown in for good measure.

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