Review: Tampa filmed ‘Sex Ed’ relentlessly raunchy

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Sex Ed (NR, probably R) (93 min.) — Despite the city looking great on camera, this below-the-belt comedy won’t be remembered among Tampa’s finest movie moments. Even the tourism board can’t squeeze much out of this one, family unfriendly as it is. Sex Ed isn’t unwatchable, but does flirt with being unlikable.

Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) stars as hangdog virgin Ed Cole, hired to oversee an after-school detention class. Ed takes it upon himself to teach graphic sexual health lessons to gutter-chat middle schoolers. Sex Ed is all dirty talk, no action, rationalizing its prurience with stacked-deck opposition from a local minister who inadvertently seems more rational as the movie proceeds.


Bill Kennedy’s screenplay is relentlessly raunchy, nary a scene passing without a coarse come-on or boast, or a sophomoric description of a sexual organ or act. It would help if more of these remarks were funny beyond their initial shock, although Matt Walsh (HBO’s Veep) scores with some obviously improvised riffs. Former SNL player Abby Elliott and Parks and Recreation co-star Retta do what they can with what they have. Among local talent, Castille Landon leaves a nice impression as Ed’s guide to the opposite sex.

The winner among Tampa locations is the Hub, the venerable Franklin Street saloon where Ed lives in an upstairs apartment, coming down for drinks now and then. It’s amazing what movie lighting does to the place, and its neon sign should get a screen credit, it shows up so often. The loser is Sacred Heart Academy, where Ed’s explicit classroom discussions on STDs and birth control were filmed, raising Catholic eyebrows after the fact.

Sex Ed gets a video-on-demand release and cursory Tampa engagement starting Friday, only at University Mall’s new Studio Movie Grill. After two distracted screenings at this food-and-flicks venue, I’m confident it’s the perfect place for this one. D

Steve Persall, Times movie critic


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