Kathryn Hahn is incredible in the terrible ‘Afternoon Delight’

Juno Temple and Kathryn Hahn play a hooker and a wealthy mom in "Afternoon Delight."  Credit: Film Arcade
Juno Temple and Kathryn Hahn play a hooker and a wealthy mom in “Afternoon Delight.”
Credit: Film Arcade

‘Afternoon Delight’
Director: Jill Soloway
Stars: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

There’s an unusual tic in movies that if one appears to be sex-positive and progressive, it will ultimately turn reactionary and borderline conservative. In “Afternoon Delight,” it’s never completely clear why harried thirtysomething mom Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) rescues then employs as nanny to her young son a troubled stripper known as McKenna (Juno Temple), whom she met while getting a joke lapdance. But for the longest time it certainly doesn’t look like this troubled girl exists solely to help our upper middle class lead through a rough patch, to be unceremoniously discarded soon as she’s served her purpose. Surely, this movie — written and directed by TV producer and showrunner Jill Soloway, a legend among female performers — would be smarter than that.

It’s not, but the possibility that it might not be — that the film won’t succumb to a third act shift that ruins everything that came before — gives it the illusion of quality. For awhile it’s not a product of cloistered wealth but also a lampoon of it. Rachel opens the film with first world problem guilt, pointing out to her therapist (Jane Lynch) that women getting raped in Darfur have actual issues. Rachel has minor, but still hurtful ones. Her marriage to a spineless manboy (Josh Radnor) has turned sexless. She’s found herself stuck hanging with other, far more controlling moms.

McKenna arrives to help her — partly to make her feel charitable, partly to give her sex tips and encourage the mid-day dalliances immortalized in the titular song. But the film treats her without judgment, and seems to admire her, on some level, for being brave enough to use her assets for financial gain (modest though it may be). It turns on her, in an unexpected and cruel fashion — crueler, surely, than even if the film had been made by a chauvinistic man.

And yet the tension before this collapse — will it punish McKenna and, if not, where on earth will the film go? — is palpable, and Soloway has a terrific sense of humor. Throwaway lines and insights abound. The big set piece takes a cliche — boys’ night out looks fun, girls’ night out looks strident — and switches it up, with a wine-soaked Rachel leading everyone in a hilariously tasteless jaunt about abortions they had in their slutty 20s.

It also has Hahn, a hugely talented up-and-comer, groping Jennifer Aniston while stealing “We’re the Millers.” Thrust from supporting to lead, she gives an alert, alive performance where every one of her constant thoughts makes it to the face in consistently engaging ways. She and the Jill Soloway of the first two-thirds deserve better.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

Bomb squad detonates backpacks left at Marathon finish…

The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated and the Copley Square T station has been closed as police investigate a suspicious package, WBZ is reporting.

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

MLB

MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox

NBA

NBA Draft Lottery day is May 20: Celtics…

NBA Draft Lottery day is Tuesday, May 20: Celtics percentage odds for a top overall pick

MLB

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be…

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be dumped just yet

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready…

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready to erupt once again in playoffs

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.