2006, Movie, NR, 90 mins


Anyone who understands the meaning of the title or catches all the frog references scattered through writer-director Martin Curland's feature debut will have a head start understanding this confused and confusing comedy. After losing his virginity to a mysterious Englishwoman while camping alone in the middle of nowhere, college student Luke (Taylor Handley) begins noticing some unpleasant aftereffects: He's having recurring dreams in which his penis shrinks, and whenever he's around Michelle (Winona Ryder ringer Rebecca Mozo), the pretty poli-sci transfer student who recently arrived from New York with her studly mechanic brother, Max (Kyle Schmid), Luke experiences what appear to be hot flashes. Then, while out on a date with Michelle, the unthinkable happens: In the midst of a particularly heated hot flash, Luke excuses himself to discover that he's sprouted breasts; on date number two, his penis is replaced by a vagina. Concerned, his housemate and best friend Keenan (Dustin Seavey) does a little research and contacts noted expert Dr. Sydney Catchadourian (Coupling's Gina Bellman), a sultry temptress who informs Luke that he's a "Z" (for zerophiliac), a human being with a genetic makeup similar to that of certain species of frogs and salamanders whose gender is indeterminate until they become sexually active. Whether they then "lock in" as male or female depends on the sex of their preferred sexual partner. Dr. Catchadourian assures Luke that for now, the sex-switch isn't permanent — he'll switch back and forth from Luke to "Luca" (Marieh Delfino), his female avatar, depending on whether he's aroused by Michelle (when he's Luke) or Max (when he's Luca). But she also tells him that, like the lowly amphibian, Luke/Luca will soon have to decide how he/she wants to live the rest of his/her life. Dr. Catchadourian will be on hand to help him seal the deal should he choose a life of manhood. Curland probably means to say something progressive about the flexible nature of sexuality, but his film winds up demonstrating just the opposite. Here it's intrinsically fused to biological sex — an antiquated notion that once led to all sorts of problems for people who have "alternative" sexualities or ambiguous genitals — and Curland seems to suggest that a person can't change his or her preference for a particular gender without a corresponding change of genitalia. (Once locked in, a Z can love either man or a woman, not both.) Curland does allow for gay men and, given Keenan's fears about his girlfriend Janine's (Alison Folland) attraction to Luca, lesbians, but there's no space in this peculiar sexual cosmology for bisexuals. This backward-thinking illogic also makes the plot exceedingly difficult to follow — Luke/Luca is not the only Z in town — and harder to care about. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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