Movies are all about imagination, fantasy, suspension of disbelief — especially when it comes to their sex scenes. But the mind is capable of only so much mental gymnastics before it goes “Nuh uh.” If the sex in question — or any aspect of the movie, really — doesn’t have enough believability, we’re taken out of the experience, much in the same way an unfortunate bodily emission can kill even the most passionate mood. Here are the worst cinematic offenders of all time:
10. Standing up sex in JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
Ask people to name their favorite Hollywood sex scene and chances are, a standing sex scene will come up. For some reason, two people doing it upright just conveys heat. But how often does anyone actually climax in this position? Well, Tom Cruise and his redheaded, dirty-talking fiance (played by Kelly Preston) certainly do in JERRY MAGUIRE. Bonus points because they have a simultaneous orgasm in this scene, which is pretty much the only kind of orgasm that gets the Hollywood stamp of approval — but is rarer in real-life than a Botox-free face is in L.A.
Runners-up: The standing sex in 8 MILE (Brittany Murphy and Eminem, 2002); LESS THAN ZERO (Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz, 1987), and ATONEMENT (Keira Knightly and James McAvoy, 2007).
9. On the staircase in THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1999)
What do movies have against beds? In the alternate reality on-screen, it’s not only possible but actually orgasmic to do it in awkward positions on hard, unforgiving surfaces like a piano (PRETTY WOMAN, 1990), a subway car (RISKY BUSINESS, 1983), a kitchen table (THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, 1981) and, in the prize-winning scene from THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR: on a cold, marble staircase.
For bonus points, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR also features sex on a marble floor and sex on a wooden desk piled high with books.
8. The bathroom quickie in UNFAITHFUL (2002)
How many women do you know who can have a zero-to-sixty quickie orgasm without the aid of a Hitachi Magic Wand? And how many women do you know who can pull this off in a cramped public bathroom stall in a New York City restaurant?
Sure, we get that it’s a turn-on to do it in semi-public while a bunch of ladies-who-lunch are waiting for you to join them, but we’re just not buying her insta-orgasm over a toilet. The UNFAITHFUL scene, starring Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez, gets bonus points because they’re standing up (see #1).
Runner-up: Timothy Olyphan’s quickie sex against the bathroom sink with a female party guest (he rams away for a few thrusts and she climaxes) in CATCH AND RELEASE (2006).
7. The cheerleader roleplaying scene in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005)
Only professional actors — in this case, Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen — could maintain the kind of straight face and suspension of disbelief required to make this scene so hot. And we admit it: it’s freakin’ hot. (So sue us, we don’t always need our movie sex scenes to be realistic.) But the chances of two normal, mortal, middle-aged beings pulling off a 69 while one of them is dressed in her high school cheerleading outfit? Slim to none.
Runner up: Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in OUT OF SIGHT (1998), pretending that he’s not a thief and she’s not a federal marshal so they can do it. (Because in real life, most of us are pretending to be the thief or the federal marshal… or we’re pretending to be Clooney and Lopez.)
6. Britney Spears loses her virginity in CROSSROADS (2002)
It’s simultaneously sweet and hilarious: Spears’ character and her boyf do that classic, only-in-Hollywood, orgasmic hand thing: the camera focuses on both of their hands reaching out and coming together in a metaphor for (we assume) simultaneous orgasm and/or a melding of souls. On your first time? We wouldn’t put money on it. Plus, Britney Spears as a virgin? Please.
Runner-up: Liv Tyler loses her virginity to her hottie Italian summer fling in STEALING BEAUTY (1996). Bonus points because they do it on a picnic blanket under a tree and no one gets poison ivy or mosquito bites on their butt.