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
International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Local

Local politicians pressure DOJ to investigate Ramarley Graham…

On what would have been his 21st birthday, Ramarley Graham's mother joined elected leaders to ask the U.S. Department of Justice investigate his death.

Local

Muslim leaders welcome NYPD surveillance changes with degree…

Leaders and advocates praise the NYPD's move to shut down a unit tied to its Muslim surveillance program but say there's more left to do.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Going Out

Tasty chicken and waffles in NYC

Try some soul food goodness around the city.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

MLB

Adam Warren closes out doubleheader sweep for Yankees

Adam Warren navigated a tricky ninth inning earn the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Cubs.

NHL

Marc Staal healthy, eager to contribute to Rangers…

Marc Staal remembers the feeling of helplessness watching his teammates compete for hockey’s ultimate prize and being unable to contribute.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.