Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles is something of a sequel to director Johnathan Blank’s 1994 film Sex, Drugs, and Democracy. In his latest film, he returns to the Netherlands to follow up on what he discovered the first time around. From questions about health care and race to discussions on gender and drugs, the film covers a wide range of topics.
Very quickly, it is apparent that Blank’s documentary is going to be a little more tongue in cheek than the subjects would seem to allow. The trick here is bringing a comedic element without downplaying the message. Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles is able to handle this well. Monty Python-esque skits are used as transitions. This enables the film to bring an element of fun without losing the seriousness.
This is very important since Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles throws so much at the audience. The documentary does not quite reach the hour and a half mark but still covers everything from looking at aspects of the history of the Netherlands to exploring the future. There is a serious risk of information overload.
For all the good Blank says about the Netherlands, he makes sure to balance his film. The point is not to make the country seem like a utopia but to point out what systems it currently has in place that seem to be working. For example, Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles examines how the country’s history of racism is often overlooked.
It is difficult to make a documentary that provides information but is also fun. Usually mixing the two tends to water down either the message or the comedy. Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles revisits the Netherlands and offers some eye opening information while also making audiences laugh.
Sex, Drugs, and Bicycles premieres on PBS February 26
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