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Home > “Target” (2023): A Playful Sex Comedy Review

“Target” (2023): A Playful Sex Comedy Review

"Target" (2023)

Target sets out to explore the sexual peccadillos of Nick (Nick Gregory) and Laura Gates (Jam Murphy)

Sex comedies are a rare sub-genre which intentionally titillate without actively seeking to offend. Target, from writer director Thomas G. Waites, is a film which ultimately tackles this treacherous terrain with limited success.

With a simplistic plotline and minimal cast members, Target sets out to explore the sexual peccadillos of Nick (Nick Gregory) and Laura Gates (Jam Murphy). A married couple who want to spice up their lackluster sex life by bringing another person into play. Their sole target in the beginning is Chip (Philip Stoddard), a young guy Laura knows, who might just be interested in this unique arrangement.

That is the basic premise laid out in those opening minutes, as this couple go about convincing other men to join in with their sexual fantasy. More sophisticated examples of this sub-genre include Animal Instincts, which got by on the striking looks of its leading lady Shannon Whirry, but never made any efforts to disguise its soft porn pretensions.

Unfortunately, Target aims for loftier intellectual ideals, as debates around Hieronymus Bosch clash with crass conversations of a deeply sexual nature, which perpetually undermine any intentions Thomas G. Waites might have had at making something of substance.

"Target" (2023)
Target (2023)

This pre-occupation with hammering home the sexual nature of the film, rather than spending time exploring its underlying themes, robs Target of some much needed nuance. An approach which gets no help from the two-dimensional quality of that central tryst between Nick, Laura, and Chip which inherently over-simplifies any dramatic payoff.

What this does is disappoint rather than distract, as contemporary conversations around the fluid nature of relationships and sexuality gets lost. Target also suffers from an uneven sense of tone at certain points, as comedic asides fall flat, seductive liaisons lack chemistry, and more serious thematic discussions feel heavy handed in their delivery.

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Of the central performances, only Philip Stoddard comes out unscathed, imbuing Chip with moments of genuine presence, as he slowly begins to dominate this three-way relationship. Whether he is overbearing towards Nick or sensual around Laura, his part in this small scale indie comedy gives Target some essential kudos.  

Elsewhere Nick Gregory plays the cuckolded husband of this equation with lecherous delight, while Jam Murphy comes into bat alongside him to mold Laura into something other than the one-dimensional focus of this morality play. In truth, Jam Murphy is handed some prime slices of pulpit preaching dialogue which any actor might struggle to sell, as she tries to convey the internal conflict which must come with this territory.

Beyond that, there is no disguising the fact Target comes across as crass rather than tongue in cheek. Pivoting awkwardly between titillation, farce, and emotive drama leaving audiences indifference to the story which unfolds. A reaction which speaks to the inherent lack of sophistication in approach, making this film feel more like a missed opportunity rather than an artistic triumph.

Nick Gregory, Jam Murphy, and Philip Stoddard
Nick Gregory, Jam Murphy, and Philip Stoddard

Coming in at a lean 90 minutes, Target can never be accused of out staying its welcome. However, it consistently fails to make good on the dramatic potential of this topic. There is no denying the good intentions of writer director Thomas G. Waites, but ultimately that lack of balance between those weightier themes and moments of light relief, ensure that Target lacks cohesion.

These issues are the primary reason why the film falls short, rather than its choice of sexual subject matter, or even its approach to areas audiences might view as taboo. Considering the continued discussions around gender, identity, and sexuality there is definitely an intriguing film to be made on cuckolding – but unfortunately Target misses the mark.

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Source: Dead Talk Live

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Entertainment Journalist.