Threesome

What is it with sex triangles and the women of Twin Peaks? Last year, in Three of Hearts, Sherilyn Fenn made it with Kelly Lynch and William Baldwin. In Backbeat, Sheryl Lee gets torn between two Beatles. Now, in Threesome, Lara Flynn Boyle hops into a bed containing Josh Charles and Stephen Baldwin. (Must we also monitor Alec's baby brothers?) You can guess the plot when Dream Lover, with Mädchen Amick, opens next month. But that's jumping ahead.

Anything to avoid Threesome, a crude mix of laughs and leers that comes close to making the disreputable dull. There's not much to say about writer-director Andrew Fleming, responsible for 1988's glaringly gross Bad Dreams, except that he's done it again. Alex (Boyle), a UCLA student, is assigned to share the same dorm suite with brainy Eddy (Charles) and boorish Stuart (Baldwin). If you must know why, the computer reads Alex as a man's name.

That's just the start of the sexual confusion. Stuart is hot for Alex – he steals her panties to wear on his face. But Alex is hot for Eddy, who steals peeks at Stuart doing workouts that make the cheeks of his ass flex pertly. Is Eddy gay? He's not sure. Is Stuart gay? He's sure he's not. Alex isn't sure of anything, but while she campaigns to turn Eddy hetero, she falls for Stuart. To restore peace in the dorm, they try celibacy. It's no-go, so they hit the sheets in pairs, followed by a three way. Doesn't this happen at every college?

Let's be charitable for a moment. The acting threesome is undeniably engaging given the low circumstances. Charles (Dead Poets Society) is appealing, Baldwin (Posse) is fun, and the sexy Boyle may one day live down The Temp. But Fleming strands the cast by playing this campfest for real. We're supposed to get all teary when kinkiness threatens to break up a friendship that was hard to swallow in the first place. There's lots of glossy cinematography, courtesy of Alexander Gruszynski, as the three lovers wander the campus separately, looking contemplative. Now there's a laugh. Eddy, a film student, actually makes reference to François Truffaut's ménage à trois classic, Jules and Jim. Eddy, you wish.

From The Archives Issue 82: May 13, 1971