“PETUNIA”— Avoiding Feelings



Avoiding Feelings

Amos Lassen

Charlie Petunia (Tobias Segal) looks like the kind of guy that women swoon over—he’s seems suave and debonair but that is just appearance. He is the exact opposite of a woman-eater—in fact; he doesn’t like women sexually at all. When we first see him at his brother’s wedding we see him snapping a rubber band on his wrist every time he sees a handsome guy. There is something about his family and the inability to show feelings. His mother, Felicia Petunia (Christine Lahti) is a therapist in need of therapy; his father, Percy Petunia (David Rasche), suffers from erectile dysfunction and tries to hide under the personality that the does not have; his brothers Michael (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Adrian (Jimmy Heck) respectively suffer from infidelity and sex addiction. We see that our boy Petunia’s biggest problem is his family.


Charlie has an agreement with himself not to have sex but then he meets and starts dating George McDougal (Michael Urie) and he feels he is ready to violate his agreement. However (there always seems to be a however) George has a secret—his wife—and when she returns unexpectedly from a long trip….

Petunia always seems to be a bundle of nerves but after all, he is the youngest and most conciliatory member of his family which mortifies him no end. The crass behavior and his psychotherapist parents give him no rest. Since they barely speak to each other, they speak through him. Because of what he seems in them, he has decided to remain celibate because sex just gets people in trouble. His oldest brother has just married his girlfriend Vivian (Thora Birch) but both bride and groom realize while they are riding in the limo from the reception to their hotel that marriage might have been a mistake. Viv is a party girl and when she discovers that she is pregnant, she sees that she has no maternal instincts. But to make matters worse, she is not sure if the father of the child is her husband, Michael or his brother, Adrian. Adrian has recently developed something called “Love’s Tourette” which causes him, while having anonymous sex, to scream out, “I Love You”.


Charlie seems to have lost control of his better judgement and, becomes involved with Viv’s cousin, George, who lives a floor below him (which is convenient). What he did not know that George’s roommate is his wife, a woman who angers quickly and easily and with rage. She knows of her husband’s gay affairs and that he neglects her and so she resorts to anorexia and long distance jogging to punish him.

We quickly see that is some twisted business going on here but the cast pulls it off with style—if that is what you can what goes on in this family. As Charlie Petunia, Segal is close to perfection. There are parts of the film that feel contrived and derivative but there are plenty sharp one-liners and lots of laughs to be had.