How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town: a fine cast makes a frothy farce climax
by Drew Rowsome -
Of all the stories that we ever published in fab, a piece by Todd Klinck for our "Holiday Entertaining Issue" on how to host a successful orgy, seemed to upset the most people. The article was very practical and the matter-of-fact dry-humoured tone that Klinck used seemed to make it that more salacious to the enraged. Group sex and a sense of humour, or even a sense of practicality, is apparently a tricky combination.
Not so for writer/director Jeremy Lalonde whose soufflé of a sex farce, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, turns out to be a lot of fun. Of course the title is far more daring than the content but Lalonde does provide enough adult situations and titillating dialogue to make the proceedings seem fairly risqué. You will laugh quite a few times but probably won't be shocked. Nor will you gain much usable information about planning an orgy.
How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town begins with a flashback where Cassie utterly fails at losing her virginity to her high school sweetheart Adam. She opts for a defiant attempt at sexual freedom and is consequently slut-shamed out of the small town of Beaver's Ridge. She heads to Toronto (nicely depicted as itself) and achieves fame as a Canadian version of Carrie Bradshaw, penning a scathing rebuke to the sexually repressive atmosphere of Beaver's Ridge. When her mother, herself the author of the Victoria of the True North series (apparently an Anne of Green Gables but christianized), dies Cassie must return and various plot machinations set up the orgy.
More interesting is the gay sub-plots with Mark O'Brien as the obnoxious racist, homophobic and desperate to get laid realtor. His ultimate fate plays out quite hilariously (if obviously) at the hands, and succulent ass, of happily kinky Gugun Deep Singh. This subplot makes up for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town's only mis-step, a cheap trans joke. All of the sexual peccadilloes, insecurities and deviations, are treated lightly and through the characters' small town eyes, but unfortunately, "chicks with dicks" are still disturbing and must be mocked.
James McGowan gets the hunky role as the man mistaken as gay because of his good looks, style and smell. He is also the one who bares the most flesh while never going full monty. It is here that the low budget, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town was mostly crowd-funded and shot in a mere 18 days, lets the film down. McGowan gets laughs by having his manhood concealed by a series of heads, vases and shadows: it is very funny even if it was already a recurring gag in the Austin Powers series. Unfortunately the sex scenes are not as artfully arranged and it is disconcerting and distracting to have characters talk about achieving "penetration" when they are obviously wearing underwear.
When the weather switches from fall to full-on winter mid-scene, the budget's limits are again driven home but the lack of continuity is compensated for by careful editing and a truly valiant cast. But there is one continuity problem that nags throughout the film: in the flashback young Adam, played by the hunky Alex Harrouch, has a glorious mat of chest hair, but he ages into the endearing and touching older Adam, a heartfelt and very watchable Ennis Esmer, who, while physically appealing in a shorn teddy bear way, has only sprinkles of hirsuteness.
However that slip-up is forgiven as the rollicking sexual misadventures build to a finale that should be mawkish, but achieves an emotional power that isn't expected from a diverting sex farce. Not expected but well earned.