Body Shots (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Do you remember the classic and complex Japanese story "Roshomon", in which several participants and witnesses, in turn, describe the same incident? They supply such varied accounts that their stories tell the audience more about their preconceptions and prejudices than about the incident itself.

Do you remember Classics Illustrated comics, those wonderful little comic book versions of the great works of literature, without which nobody ever would have passed a test on Herman Melville or The House of the Seven Gables?

Well, "Body Shots" is the Classics Comics version of Roshomon.

Eight people kinda go out together, and pair off. A football star and one of the women end up at her beach house. When the night is over, she thinks she has been raped. He thinks he got laid.

Both participants seem to be sharing their honest recollections of the incident, and both of them admit to some possibilities for error in their accounts.

  • The woman admits she has blackouts when she gets too drunk. The casting in this film seems almost eerily prescient when you consider that Tara Reid played a woman whose alcohol abuse left her unaware of what she was doing. She played this role many years before she seemed to turn into that very character before our eyes.
  • The man admits he was so drunk that he doesn't know what was real and what wasn't.

We, the audience are not sure whom to believe. It seems to us that they are both telling the truth.


Tara Reid is the woman in the prolonged sex scene which is reviewed again and again. She shows her breasts constantly, and her butt briefly, no pubes.

Ron Livingstone shows his buns and Emily Proctor her breasts in their own kinky "spanking in costume" scene.

Jerry O'Connell's butt is seen in the shower and in Tara Reid's version of the sex scene.

The story is not just about the rape incident itself, but how it affects the group of eight friends. The movie goes far enough past the rape to show how the incident subtly affects the attitudes of the other main characters toward one another, because each character's attitude toward the alleged rape affects the way the other characters think of him or her. In essence, then, the central rape incident affects not only the two people involved, and they way in which they relate to their friends, but the entire core dynamic among the other six friends as well. 

The sub-text of the movie is that their lives are out of control.

  • Both of the principal characters were so drunk that they could not be considered reliable witnesses to anything, and there were no other witnesses to their encounter.
  • Two of their friends also paired off briefly, had steamy sex in public on top of a car, then realized what they had done and were both embarrassed. More lives out of control.
  • The film begins with the two most intelligent and sensitive of the eight in bed together, and even that guy couldn't remember if he made love to his partner! Still more lives out of control.

Was the beach house incident so different from the other two hook-ups? We are never really told. The movie is much more intelligent and sensitive than the typical offering of this type, as evidenced by its impartial treatment of the conflicting versions, and the fact that the screenwriter allowed the female friends to doubt her account, and the male friends to doubt his. The strongest point of the movie is that it doesn't take sides or force an external viewpoint into the discussions.

The weakest point of the film is that it asks its audience to endure a very difficult tone shift that is designed to make one squirm. The first half of the movie can be at times a cynical comedy about relationships, ala Your Friends & Neighbors. Before the incident, there are some pretty amusing and insightful looks at the attitudes of the eight main characters toward dating in the 90's. The cavalier tone of the comedy is broken up by a few moments of gentle poetry. One guy delivers quite an affecting monologue in which he says that "people rarely get close, but they think they are getting close because they are making love, and that forced intimacy always fools them. But if we really got close to all the people we made love to, we wouldn't be so damned lonely, would we?"

Yet the second half of the film has no light or gentle moments. It is virtually an unmitigated tragedy when a woman relives the hell of rape, at least as she perceives it, and the other characters discuss that rape. Because of this disturbing tone shift, and because the characters are not very likeable to begin with, most people found it an unpleasant film to watch. I did, too, to be honest, but I also admired the honesty it brought to the subject matter. On the other hand, I am one of the very few people to have reviewed it positively.

DVD info from Amazon

It has no special features except a trailer and those cheesy bios, but it has four versions of the film, r-rated and unrated, widescreen and standard.

So what, you ask? This is important to us for exposure, since we need the standard version. (Reid's breasts are cut out of the bottom of the frame a couple of times in the widescreen)

If you have a DVD-ROM drive, there is also a script-to-screen presentation which allows you to click on the script to watch the corresponding scene.

The DVD has two 103 minute versions of the film (the theatrical version in widescreen and full screen versions), and two 106 minute versions, which add back the footage which had been cut to get an R rating. I didn't compare them to see what's in the extra three minutes. It might have been language rather than nudity. The film includes long, frank, and sometimes humorous discussions of oral sex, analingus, and anal penetration.

My favorite scene in the lighter-hearted first half was a funny L.A. classroom where the grave and sober teacher was giving blowjob lessons to a room full of studious women. Tough way to pick up three credits, but probably beats the hell out of reading Moby Dick.

Or maybe that's what Moby Dick was about. Maybe Moby was ye olde worde for "sucking".

I wouldn't know. I read the Classics Comic version.


Body Shots (1999) is compared by many to Roshamon, where 4 separate observers see the same act, but tell very different versions of the story based on their own prejudices and perceptions. This classic has been remade many times -- the one I recall off-hand is "The Outrage" which was very faithful to the story line, but changed the setting to the American west. While it has been a long time since I watched either film, I recall the theme being that there is really no way to know the truth, as each man's truth is subjective rather than objective.

Body Shots does show the story from two sides, but is not really about subjective reality at all. The theme of this film has more to do with gender problems and dating in the 90s, date rape, and the effect of diminished capacity due to drink or drugs on someone's credibility. We follow four women and four men, all Yuppies,  through a Friday evening, where they party hearty, then pair up. Dating has about vanished, and girlfriends go out to a club in a group, guys do the same thing. The aim is to get wasted, have fun, and try to get lucky. The conflict occurs when one of the women (Tara Reid) claims one of the men (Jerry O'Connell) raped her. When pressed, we find both of them very unreliable witnesses. She has a history of alcohol induced blackouts, and he admits that he was too wasted to remember what really happened.

While the main plot line was interesting, the backdrop was nearly as interesting, as we learn much about the views and actions of the 20-somethings. Topics include oral sex, bondage, intimacy, and emotionless sex. It is also interesting that Tara's girlfriends don't necessarily side with her because of her history when drunk, and O'Connell's buddies admit that they think he is capable of rape. The film has a real edge, due to subject, odd camera angles, and driving music. The biggest flaw, for me, was that all of the characters were shallow, self-centered and immature -- it is hard to enjoy a film when you dislike all of the players, but this one held my interest start to finish.

As I looked through reviews after writing this, I noticed a curious thing. Everyone interpreted it differently. Berardinelli saw it as being about date rape and dating in the 90's, Ebert thought it was about alcoholism, and so on. It somewhat proves one of the themes of the film, that the whole love/sex/dating thing can be very confusing and difficult to figure out for everyone.

The Critics Vote ...

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 2/4, Berardinelli 3/4, Apollo 62/100, BBC 4/5.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it only 4.8 out of 10.
  • With their dollars ... it bombed at the box. Despite a three hundred theater distribution, the film never cleared a million gross.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna says, "The camera work that struck me as original the first time I watched this film was merely distracting now, and reacquainting myself with these people reminded me of the Maurice Chevalier song from Gigi,  "I'm Glad I'm not Young Anymore." If this is what being young and single is like now, they are welcome to it. C-".  Scoop says, "A solid C, and not at all as bad as you might think from the 22% at RT and the 4.8 at IMDB."

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