Afternoon Delight

Directed By: Jill Soloway

Starring: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch, and Jessica St. Clair

I will never know what it's really like to be a bored homemaker.  Beyond the simple fact that I get up and go to work every day, I just can't relate.  It certainly doesn't help that I'm a single guy in my twenties.  At this point in my life, the closest I'll ever get to understanding the boredom that plagues them is watching a few episodes of Desperate Housewives.  With all this in mind, you can only imagine how disinterested I was in Jill Soloway's dramedy Afternoon Delight at first glance.  After all, this is a movie about a woman whose biggest problems are that she invites a stripper into her home and that she wants to have an orgasm with her eyes open while making love to her husband.  Big freakin' deal.

Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is at a crossroad in her life.  She's bored with everything and everyone around her.  A stay-at-home mom, she spends her days at auctions and other events sponsored by the parents' association at her son Logan's (Sawyer Ever) pre-school.  A devoted wife, she spends her nights not having sex with her husband Jeff (Josh Radnor) and strangely uses code words about her dog Bonnet to keep it that way.  Sometime between these nightmares, she finds time to moan and groan to her therapist Lenore (Jane Lynch) and best friend Stephanie (Jessica St. Clair) about her sad life.  At Stephanie's recommendation, Rachel takes Jeff to a strip club to spice things up in their relationship.  She just didn't know she'd be bringing 22 year-old stripper McKenna (Juno Temple) home after one momentous lap dance.

Afternoon Delight does give good advice for those bored housewives who think that bringing a stripper home to live with them and their families is a good idea.  The film is a potent demonstration of everything that could potentially go wrong when you bring a seductive sex worker into your home and of why a stripper is not a cure for the common marriage.  While it's an invaluable life lesson, there's just one problem.  No fool in their right mind would do something like this!  We all know that bringing a stripper home to stay can only spell disaster.  Because of this, Afternoon Delight is a train wreck waiting to happen, and we can all see it coming.  Ultimately, the film's stripper storyline is not the cure for the common melodrama.

Though Afternoon Delight is plagued by predictability, it is one funny film.  With Kathryn Hahn, Josh Radnor, and Jane Lynch, we've got plenty of stars who specialize in making people laugh.  For her part as our lead character Rachel, Hahn brings the laughs whenever there's a substance involved, whether it be wine or weed.  That's when she's at her craziest on screen.  For his part as Rachel's husband Jeff, Josh Radnor certainly brings plenty of low-key humor to the film as well.  It's nice to see him playing something other than a desperate romantic searching for his future wife on How I Met Your Mother.  Finally, we have Jane Lynch portraying Rachel's crazy therapist Lenore.  She hilariously spends more time whining about her lesbian wife than counseling her patient.

From a more dramatic perspective, there are two actresses who stand out for some solid work on camera — Kathryn Hahn and Juno Temple.  Hahn, whom we've most recently seen in the mediocre road trip comedy We're the Millers, delivers quite an impressive performance that may in fact rescue the film from its ridiculous storyline.  She gives us the bored wife tortured by the monotony of her life and the social pressures around her.  With equal skill and nuance, Hahn gives us the kinky experimenter who begins dabbling in all sorts of sexual experiences.  Temple, who has been quickly building a name for herself over the last couple of years, delivers one alluring, sensual performance.  Beyond the overt sexuality of her character, she adds a dimension of emotional depth that helps to better acquaint us with the vicious cycle that is her life.  I just wish she didn't use that high-pitched voice all the time.  She needs to bring it down an octave.

I know you probably think that Afternoon Delight is a lighter film.  After all, it is a movie about a bored housewife bringing a stripper into her home.  I'm here to tell you that it's not.  Really, I just want you to know that I'm being so hard on this movie because this dramedy takes itself too seriously.  It's more drama than comedy, and the ridiculous nature of this story matters more because of this.  Regardless, I did enjoy the movie on the whole.  With this in mind, Afternoon Delight gets a strong 0.06% rating.  Have a glass or two of Zinfandel with this one.