Owen Gleiberman
April 15, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Threesome

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Stephen Baldwin, Lara Flynn Boyle, Josh Charles
director
Andrew Fleming
distributor
TriStar Pictures
author
Andrew Fleming
genre
Romance, Comedy

We gave it a C+

There are so few movies that even try to deal with the helter-skelter realities of most people’s sex lives-by now, the typical ”hot,” up-against- the-shower-wall scene has all the spontaneity of a Vegas floor show-that I was grateful for the very premise of Threesome. At a serene California college, Eddy (Josh Charles), a polite, self-effacing transfer student, is assigned to room with Stuart (Stephen Baldwin), a friendly blowhard who does nothing but drink, screw girls, pump iron, and dream about screwing more girls. The two instantly become best buddies, the first of many implausibilities that gallop by before you even have a chance to say, ”Wait a minute.” Then, just as they’ve established their dorm room as a grungy two-man frat house, a computer glitch results in their getting a third roommate, the decidedly unmanly Alex (Lara Flynn Boyle).

Stuart, naturally, wants to bed down with her. To his dismay, though, Alex is turned on by the bookish Eddy, who brings her to orgasm on a library table simply by reading from Nathaniel Hawthorne (”Golly, I love big words,” she exclaims in mid-moan). Unfortunately for her, Eddy, a virgin who soon figures out that he’s gay, is spending more and more time staring at Stuart’s shapely butt. United by their mutually unrequited crushes, the three roommates form an amorous but platonic daisy chain. Flaunting their bond with the kind of hermetically smug superiority that American college life is all about, they proceed to shut out the rest of the world, becoming not just friends but a kind of touchy-feely unit. It’s only a matter of time before their inhibitions melt away.

By turns heartfelt and glib, Threesome would like to be a kinky Gen-X Jules and Jim. Certainly, it’s refreshing to see a movie in which homosexuality is acknowledged casually, as no more remarkable-or dramatic-than heterosexuality. At the same time, writer-director Andrew Fleming works with a coyness that verges on the insufferable (that library orgasm is as corny as the restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally ). The movie makes the mistake of sharing its characters’ haughty self-satisfaction, and Fleming is so eager to merge those characters into a hip menage a trois that he barely bothers to establish them as individuals. Still, one performer comes through. As Stuart, Stephen Baldwin-his thickly muscled neck set off by a page-boy hairdo that makes him look like a walking penis-is a charismatic contradiction: a wiseacre Neanderthal so hormonally driven, and so unapologetic about it, that in the very purity of his piggishness he attains a daft charm. He’s the one leg of this triangle that can stand on its own. C+

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