The Best Sex Comedies of All Time, from ‘The Seven Year-Itch’ to ‘Magic Mike XXL’ to ‘Bottoms’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film The Best Sex Comedies of All Time, from ‘The Seven Year-Itch’ to ‘Magic Mike XXL’ to ‘Bottoms’

The Best Sex Comedies of All Time, from ‘The Seven Year-Itch’ to ‘Magic Mike XXL’ to ‘Bottoms’

The Best Sex Comedies of All Time, from ‘The Seven Year-Itch’ to ‘Magic Mike XXL’ to ‘Bottoms’

It’s been a long, sexless decade or two for American cinema, but this summer, we’re finally getting films about laughs and lust again.

The 2023 Summer film season has been bookended by two comedies about women desperate for sex, albeit for very different reasons. “No Hard Feelings,” starring Jennifer Lawrence as a woman who reluctantly accepts a Craigslist job to “date” the son of a rich couple in exchange for a car, arrived in June. Closing out August comes the theatrical release of South by Southwest premiere “Bottoms,” directed by “Shiva Baby” filmmaker Emma Seligman and starring Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri as two horny, unpopular lesbian teenagers who start a “female self-defense program” (read: fight club) in a bid to impress their cheerleader crushes.

Both films have been well-received by critics and audiences alike; “No Hard Feelings” made a healthy amount of money with $86.7 million at the global box office, and although it’s too soon to tell how “Bottoms” will do in theaters, it’s been acclaimed as a queerer, more diverse update on the teen sex comedy formula. The success of both films brings hope that after a long absence of sex comedies — or heck, comedies in general — they’re coming back to theaters with a bang… pun very much intended.

The rules of what makes a sex comedy a sex comedy are pretty loose. It just needs to be a film where the action and the comedy is driven at least in part by a character’s (or characters’!) desire for sex. The first few sex comedies came in the ’50s, with movies like “The Seven-Year Itch” and “Pillow Talk” focusing on male anti-heroes desperate to bed gorgeous blondes played by quintessential bombshells Marilyn Monroe or Doris Day. The genre steadily grew raunchier in the ’70s, helped by the success of comedies like “Animal House,” and a whole subgenre of teen-centric films like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Risky Business” developed in the ’80s. The genre persisted in some form or another afterwards, through hits like “There’s Something About Mary” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” before largely dying out in the 2010s as even PG-13 comedies struggled to make an impact at the box office.

Sex comedies haven’t always been the most prestigious or acclaimed films around, and there’s many valid critiques to be made about many entries in the genre. Egregious misogyny, over-sexualization of women, and questionable portrayals of consent are all vices many of the films gleefully (and grossly) indulge in. But at their best, sex comedies are some of the funniest films around — using the inherent embarrassment of intimacy as a springboard for brilliant hijinks. Sex is one of the fundamentals of human life, and a good sex comedy finds the absurdity, and sometimes even the sweetness, in it.

In celebration of the theatrical release of “Bottoms,” IndieWire is looking back at the all-time silliest and steamiest sex comedie. Entries are unranked and listed in chronological order. With editorial contribution by Samantha Bergeson. 

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