‘Obsessed’ is a Christmas Movie

I love this stupid little movie. I saw it in the theater when it first came out in 2009. I was a deeply closeted queer woman in a shitty relationship with a guy who would think Jerry O’Connell’s every line was a laugh riot. My gay male best friend and I watched it with about three other people scattered around the cinema, howling at every line. It’s somewhat erotic and not at all thrilling, Ali Larter is actually really great and fun in it, and Idris Elba plays a man with two first names! I love you, Derek Charles!

It’s also a vaulting flagpole for manhood and the way each gender is required to fall in line. The film takes itself deadly seriously in its pursuit of making sure Idris’ Derek properly upholds the tenants required of manliness: be an overpaid corporate executive, have the perfect car and house, and do NOT let your wife Beyonce go to college.

Men convene in the break room with the ravenousness of a pack of wolves, sweeping shots of skyscrapers transition scenes by piercing the air like erect dicks, the boss literally sexually harasses a temp during a meeting! It’s as horny for Ali Larter’s Lisa as it’s ready to condemn her. Idris’ Derek Charles tells Lisa she needs help, to which she responds “I know.” She plays it maybe, kind of as a joke, but clearly Lisa could use a job with benefits that can get her access to therapy, and the film thinks it’s funny and that she should be punished. The film wants to have its dirty martini and burger, too: it’s manly to want to fuck Lisa, it’s decidedly NOT manly to be married with kids, and it’s incredibly, preferably, manly to have your wife find out about a woman sexually harassing you and killing that woman in a rage of jealousy.

The rules of womanhood are also laid out: marry rich, be a mom, and under no circumstances should you go to night school. Beyonce’s Sharon uses the deeply stressful situation her husband is in to demand Derek prove himself back into her and Kyle’s life, more tests of manhood for the Executive VP of Gage Bendix.

Ali Larter in Obsessed (2009)

A scene in which Derek goes to HR about being sexually harassed plays exactly like the moment in The Assistant where Julie Garner tries to file a complaint to HR rep Tom Wambsgans in terms of the looming dread of it all, but in the case of Obsessed I can’t believe it’s purposeful. It could be that the HR rep is a dangerous foe to reveal the harassment to, it could also be that the actor they got to play the rep is just naturally sort of creepy! All in all, the film is a mess that’s sometimes campy and all the time a sexist non-entity in the scheme of cinema history, and I highly recommend it.

Take it in for the time capsule of 2009 it is. For the Christmas party scene where the entire office earnestly dances to Play that Funky Music White Boy. For Idris Elba thanking the queer character for being on the office party decorating committee. Give yourself the gift of a true holiday camp classic in Obsessed this season. Thank me later, Shannon.