20th Century Fox/Summit
Awkward sex is a part of life. Whether it's your first time or simply a chemistry issue, many people have had at least one awkward sexual encounter in their life. Sometimes, those encounters are merely unremarkable, and other times, they're more dangerous and less acceptable. Movies often reflect that reality. While many of the most famous sex scenes are famous for their sexiness, some are famous for a different reason.
These awkward sexual encounters sometimes show up in comedies. Usually, these encounters are harmless and are ultimately meant for laps. Other times, dramas decide to depict sex that's either awkward or even assault. In those cases, things get way more than simply uncomfortable. Here are 16 of the most awkward sex scenes from film.
Judd Apatow, who directed Knocked Up, has a couple of entries on this list. He may be the ultimate master of the awkward sex scene, and he seems to know how to wring every possible bit of comedy out of one. Knocked Up, which is about a pregnant woman, has plenty of fun with the difficulties of having sex while pregnant.
A pregnant Allison is incredibly self-conscious about her rounder physique, and her partner is worried that sex will somehow cause him to poke the unborn child. It's amazing how little most men (myself included) seem to understand about female physiology.
Many of the movies on this list are comedies, but Watchmen is often serious to a fault. Its sex scene, which is between two of the films superheroic figures, is set to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." That song has become a bit of a cliche in its own right, and it's even stranger to set it against a sex scene.
The effect is supposed to be total seriousness. It's almost a suggestion that this moment is a religious experience. Instead, it feels like it's trying way too hard. What was supposed to be incredibly serious becomes hilarious instead, and the whole thing starts to feel like a huge joke.
It's fitting that a movie about a man losing his virginity would have some awkward sex scenes. The 40-Year Old Virgin certainly doesn't disappoint in that regard. During one scene in particular, when Andy, the film's main character, is trying to have sex with very interested women, he realizes that his first time should mean something.
We also get to see some of Andy's other attempts to lose his virginity, most of which end in hilarious disaster. During one attempt, a woman is sucking his toe. He inadvertently kicks her in the nose, and a nosebleed ensues. That's not exactly the kind of sexual experience you tell your kids about.
The sex scene in Superbad could have gone wrong in so many different ways. Michael Cera's character in the film has been crushing on someone hard, but by the time he arrives at the party to find her, she's already pretty drunk. Although he's initially hesitant, he eventually decides to go through with the act after she comes on to him.
In the end, she throws up on him and then thinks that he doesn't like her because he won't have sex with her while she's drunk. It's an uncomfortable scene from the word go, but it's also a pretty honest one. Sex can be hard, especially when those involved don't have a firm grasp of how they feel.
From the opening scene of Bridesmaids, we know that Kristen Wiig's character is not sexually compatible with Jon Hamm's. Although the Mad Men star is incredibly attractive, in Bridesmaids, he's something of a sexual neanderthal.
Although Kristen's character never has good sexual experiences with him, she keeps coming back because he's so easy on the eyes. Not only does this make for some awkward sex, it also gets at the idea that being attractive and being good at having sex don't necessarily go together. You can look like Jon Hamm and be terrible in bed, as hard as that might be to believe.
Stepbrothers is a movie built around old men acting like little boys. It's hilarious from its very first moment. During one scene, though, John C. Reilly's character is surprised by his date in the bathroom, and she tries to force herself on him.
The results are both uncomfortable and hilarious. It's not easy to show the pain and discomfort that can come when sex is done the wrong way, but John carries that off brilliantly. Most awkward sexual situations come when one person is really down and the other really isn't. Stepbrothers plays with that dynamic brilliantly, all in the course of a relatively short scene.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a movie about the emotional fragility of most men. It's a sad, pathetic movie that climaxes with a double sex scene that is both hilarious and painfully awkward. When both of the film's central couples go at it at the same time in adjoining rooms, things get awkward fairly quickly.
For one of those couples, it's clear that the passion is mostly fake. For the other, things are just getting started. Still, one of the worst things in the world is hearing someone else having sex through a thin wall. You would think a luxury hotel in Hawaii would fix that problem.
It's easy to see how serious sex scenes can play all wrong on screen. In Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the sex is simply taken too seriously. Vampire sex should be exciting and dramatic! Instead, Edward's sex scene with Bella simply takes far too long.
Every moment is supposed to be intense and unforgettable, and it may be for the characters. For viewers, though, the whole affair could be over sooner. With sex on screen, less is often more. We don't need to see every graphic detail to understand what's going on. Most of the scenes on this list could stand to learn that lesson.
Her is a story about a man who falls in love with the artificial intelligence he talks to — kind of like Siri, but slightly more human-esque in her responses. Their love is deep and mutual, and it's based largely in conversation. Because the relationship doesn't exist between two people with bodies, the two of them have to get creative when it comes to sex.
Sam, the female AI, hires a surrogate to have sex with her partner. Although the idea is based on generosity, it freaks him out, and he ultimately asks the surrogate to leave. He doesn't have any sort of intimacy with this person or her body. Having sex with her doesn't mean anything.
20th Century Fox
The Counselor may have sounded good on paper, but it was a disaster when it came out. Case in point: in one scene, Javier Bardem narrates a sexual encounter that Cameron Diaz has with his car.
While that may be meant to evoke a certain mood or feeling, it comes across as totally ludicrous. It's the kind of thing that serious movies think makes them feel more weighty, but actually makes them feel more absurd than they already were. On paper, The Counselor looks like a standard prestige movie. In reality, it was something much sillier than that, and this sex scene was a prime piece of evidence.
Eyes Wide Shut is all about sex, but not in a particularly exciting way. Instead, it depicts sex as something that's almost disgusting, even as it comes to define the lives of the young couple at the film's center. For most of the movie, Tom Cruise's character is trying desperately to find his way into an elaborate orgy for the super-rich.
Eventually, he stands before a tribunal and is forced to remove his clothes. It's then that we realize that this movie is really about power, and how it can be communicated physically. Tom Cruise is usually a commanding hero. In this movie, though, he has no power to control how he's treated, and it's tough to watch.
Gigli is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, and with good reason. The film was meant to be a vehicle for both Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, but it didn't do either of them any favors. Nevermind the fact that, for most of the movie, JLo's character is supposed to be a lesbian.
When she finally agrees to have sex with Ben's character, the scene is both incredibly awkward and terribly scripted. She tells him she wants to have sex by saying "it's turkey time," as if that means anything at all. It can be hard to tell someone you want to have sex with him, but that can't be the best way.
In case it wasn't already clear, Howard the Duck is a duck. That's why the implications of this scene are so horrific. Although we only see Howard lean over and kiss the woman he's with, the cut away from them implies something truly unthinkable. Ducks should not have sex with people, even in a universe where ducks are capable of thinking and feeling like humans.
Beastiality is a bridge most movies refuse to cross, but Howard the Duck seemed willing to imply it, even if it never directly shows it. Although there's no sex in this scene, the implication is uncomfortable enough.
The sex in The Sessions is a different kind of awkward. The cringing comes not from a desire to laugh, but from the harsh reality of the situation the scene is presenting. The film follows a paralyzed man who hires a sex therapist to help him develop a sex life and lose his virginity.
Although the actors (John Hawkes and Helen Hunt) in the scene are wonderfully charismatic, there's a sadness to the way John's character can never seem to control himself. It's awkward because it's way too real, and gets at the tragedy of the world in ways most sex scenes don't.
Addicts often seem to be willing to do just about anything for another hit, at least in movies. That's certainly the case in Requiem for a Dream, when Jennifer Connelly's character is desperate for another hit. So desperate, in fact, that she's willing to perform sexual favors in order to get some more heroin.
In this scene, we see her double-team a sex toy with another woman. All the while, men stand around them throwing money. The scene is as humiliating and devastating as sex can be, and a stark reminder of the vulnerability that's inherent in any sexual act.
The sex in Anomalisa is intentionally awkward, but that awkwardness is the real kind that often comes when people have sex for the first time. Things are strained and hard to communicate, and the vulnerability is clear from the get-go.
Of course, the fact that both the main characters in Anomalisa are puppets only make things feel weirder. Puppets don't move like humans, and so sex can feel like an even more mechanical act. Somewhat surprisingly, this film still manages to make everything feel intimate and revealing. Sex scenes can be awkward without depicting sex that is miserable because real sex is awkward sometimes.