Despite being a corporate holiday that commodifies a stereotypical representation of passion and affection, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a holiday that celebrates love. But most people immediately associate the holiday with romantic love. Similarly, teen sex comedies have historically presented an unrealistic and incomplete picture of young love and the fornication practices that come with it. As Avery finds out while she’s doing research for her app, the genre is focused on either making sex the most outrageous punchline imaginable or depicting the romantic grand gestures of a relationship and stopping just short of having sex.
What “Sex Appeal” does differently is that it examines many aspects of sex and love, which also includes love for a significant other, love for parents, and love for a best friend. It even covers self-love in an unexpected, yet satisfying way that most romantic comedies don’t even touch on. Plus, Avery doesn’t get a classic happy ending. Spoiler alert, Larson and Avery don’t get together in the end. In fact, their friendship takes a pretty big hit by the time the credits roll. But just as Avery’s “bonus mom” Kim (Rebecca Henderson) tells her after the whole ordeal, “That’s the thing with friendship or sex. The key to a good friendship or good sex is about giving, not taking. Luckily, friendship, like sex, is something that you can get better at with practice.”
With a fresh and modern take on the multiple forms of love, “Sex Appeal” stands out as a potentially perfect choice for a Valentine’s Day movie. It may not be your classic love story, but love is certainly found in every facet of Avery’s journey.