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Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human

Year: 1999
Production Co: Earthbound Human Productions
Studio: Columbia
Director: Jeff Abugov
Writer: Jeff Abugov
Cast: Carmen Electra, David Hyde Pierce, Lucy Liu
Everything about this film looked like a cheap comedy, and with such a bizarre angle, it was actually a very pleasant surprise.

Posing as a documentary for aliens observing the human species and its reproductive practices, it tells the story of two young Los Angeleans (Astin and Electra) who meet, fall in love and start to reproduce and bond in the usual way.

Interspersed with the action on screen is a voiceover explanation of what's going on, trying to make sense of what an elaborate and contradictory dance human courtship is. Wry and good-naturedly sarcastic, the narrator (Pierce) explains everything as it happens, occasionally admitting 'don't worry, it makes no sense to us either'.

With the sequences of the 'sperm' hitting the 'diaphragm' repeatedly and the narrator's bemusement at contraception now the lovers have finally reached the point of reproduction, plenty of the dialogue is genuinely warm and funny.

And in a strange way, the whole thing is actually quite moving as the two people fall for each other in an everyday way without the theatrics we're used to from movies.

Part of the appeal for me was Electra. I started watching it with no idea she was in it, and wasn't even sure it was her until I checked the cast listing somewhere.

Had I known, I would have expected her string bikini, pole-dancing video, soft porn image. But she actually dresses, acts and talks like a real girl, vulnerable in affairs of the heart and excited at meeting the man of her dreams. It made her seem quite beautiful to me, whereas nowadays she's just another mostly-naked starlet.

So a lot of what I liked about the film was the successful (if unwitting) depiction of real people and the promise of love and sex rather than the thrusting of it into your face. In a world where instant sexual gratification is only a click away, the mystique and the promise of beauty never gets time to build and we all forget how sweet that feels. Looking pretty instead of pseudo-slutty, Electra embodied that promise here.

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