A sweeter, gentler kind of teen sex comedy
For all its sharp barbs at Catholic school hypocrisy and its frank depictions of masturbation and teenage hookups, “Yes, God, Yes” somehow retains a breezy and even sweet disposition, thanks to the light touch of writer-director Karen Maine and an absolutely winning performance by “Stranger Things” star Natalia Dyer as a 16-year-old schoolgirl who is simultaneously exploring her sexuality while combatting nasty gossip about her performing a certain activity with a classmate who has a girlfriend.
I can’t even describe the term for this particular act. (Or should I say, I’d rather not.) Suffice to say Dyer’s Alice not only didn’t perform it, she has no idea what it even means, which makes it all the more
hilarious every time she repeats the phrase to the amusement of others.
While the material may be objectionable to some, this Roman Catholic found it to be hilarious and engaging. Sure, much of the humor is over the top, but there are essential truths ringing throughout.
“Yes, God, Yes” is set at a Catholic high school in the Midwest in the early 2000s. With period-piece songs such as Collective Soul’s “Shine” on the soundtrack, Alice has begun to explore her sexuality. She logs onto an AOL Chat Room where a couple sends her provocative photos, and this is when Alice discovers the joys of masturbation, much to her surprise. (The scene is not graphic, and is played mostly for gentle laughs.)
Meanwhile, someone has started a rumor about Alice hooking up with the handsome and dopey Wade (Parker Wierling). Alice is labeled a “slut,” and even her best friend (Francesca Reale, also of “Stranger Things”) begins to doubt her. At a weekend retreat, Alice discovers the school priest (Timothy Simons) isn’t as righteous as he claims to be and certain classmates who are preaching celibacy aren’t practicing what they preach.
At one point, Alice literally runs away from the camp, and winds up in a bar where she meets a lesbian and lapsed Catholic (Susan Blackwell in a scene-stealing cameo), who does a better job of mentoring the girl in five minutes than her teachers have done over the entire semester. It’s in that moment we know Alice doesn’t have an easy road ahead, but she’s bright and kind and good, and she’ll find the path that suits her best. She deserves to be happy.