Gina (Sally Phillips) is an attractive woman in early middle age who works in a financing firm. Her boss is a bit of a sleaze who undervalues her skills, but life doesn’t look too bad: she has a nice house and a nice-looking lawyer husband (Cameron Daddo). The sexual spark may have gone from their marriage, but what can you expect at their age? And life does have its joys – one of which is the daily ocean swim with her girlfriends.
When her boss fires her so he can employ a younger woman with big tits, the girls decide to cheer her up on her birthday by sending her a strip-o-gram. This comes in the form of handsome young Tom (Alexander England) who shouts ‘happy birthday!’ and starts to disrobe in a manner Gina finds utterly discombobulating. When he leeringly points out that she can do anything she likes with him for a whole two hours, she realizes he’s offering sex. Turns out the girls had gone the whole hog and paid for the ‘premium’ product.
Tom’s new to this game and going about it a bit gauchely, but he doesn’t want to fail in his debut as male escort, and when Gina points primly to her wedding ring he’s a bit deflated. (Yes, young man, not all older women are cougars!) At this point, having been caught in the middle of cleaning the grout in the bathroom tiles – she’s still wearing the rubber gloves – she tells this semi-clad young hunk that okay, if he really wants to please her, he can clean her house for two hours!
This is the punchline to an old joke, isn’t it? Well, yes. The first of many such in a predictable plotline full of bawdy puns and innuendo. You can imagine how it goes: The girls are agog to hear how it went with Tom. Struck by their gleeful enthusiasm she gets the idea for a new business: a fleet of on-call male housecleaners who can ‘get into every crevice’.
(Like I said about old jokes. There’s one scene involving a remote-controlled vibrating egg and a bloke on an exercise bike which my companion assured me was a direct steal from the 2000 movie What Women Want.)
Of course there are obstacles to be overcome: some men are a bit hazy on how housecleaning works, some are a bit rusty in the bedroom department. Nothing that can’t be remedied with a spot of training (arranged through a kind of contra/freebie/discount scheme). Then there are the pesky illegalities: you can’t just hang out your shingle as a mobile brothel, can you?
How To Please A Woman is part Aussie-flavoured bawdy romp and part mature-age romcom. The film is saying on the one hand ‘everyone wants a good root’ (I’m not being crude – this quintessentially Aussie word is strategically placed throughout to get laughs) and on the other ‘not all sex-starved baby-boomers are into meaningless copulation’.
Some may quibble with the movie’s simplistic assumptions about mature female sexuality and its flippant attitude to prostitution. It does try to be all things to all people: it says the right things about sexual harassment and same-sex attraction, albeit in a cursory way. But it’s a feelgood movie after all and if it doesn’t achieve the perfect synthesis of what the right-thinking enlightened person of a certain age should think about all this, its attitude to sexual politics is generous and good-natured and it does for sure deliver many laughs.