‘Yes, God, Yes’ Review: Sin and Sensuality

July 23, 2020

In the masturbation comedy “Yes, God, Yes” — a title that begs for an exclamation point — Alice (Natalia Dyer), a 16-year-old virgin and naïve Catholic high schooler, embarks on the road to solitary orgasm with more persistence than luck.

Primed by multiple VHS viewings of the sex scene in “Titanic,” Alice is experiencing urges she’s unsure how to satisfy. Experiments with a vibrating cellphone and an inadvertent dip into a cheesy AOL chat room (the movie’s setting is the early aughts) are frustratingly interrupted. At school, she’s plagued by a nasty rumor of her involvement in a mystifying sex act, and a faculty that aggressively polices impure thoughts. And in morality class, Father Murphy (Timothy Simons) unhelpfully compares sexual arousal to the workings of kitchen appliances.

Slight and sweet, and without much of an edge, “Yes, God, Yes” uses the pursuit of climax as an opportunity to take a gentle dig at religious humbug and holier-than-thou hypocrisy. At a lakeside faith retreat — recalling the anti-gay conversion therapy camp in Jamie Babbit’s 2000 comedy, “But I’m a Cheerleader” — glimpses of fellatio and furtive onanism lurk alongside the singalongs. Later, a scene in a lesbian bar (featuring a wonderful Susan Blackwell) provides a jolt of secular common sense.

By Jeannette Catsoulis