The Most Cringe-Worthy Sex Scenes In Movie History

Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock
In a perfect world, there would be no embarrassing sex stories. No one would ever fall off beds, make weird noises, or stumble upon an unexpected surprise mid-coitus. But in reality, the coming together of bodies can be a clunky affair.
We can't even escape the awkward truths of the bedroom at the movies, because it often turns out that on-screen sex is just as disjointed as real-life sex. After all, not every film can devote 15-minute chunks of run time to masterfully planned bedtime choreography like Blue Is the Warmest Color does.
These scenes will make you gasp, cringe, and wonder: What where the directors thinking? While some scenes are intentionally squirm-inducing (see: The 40 Year Old Virgin), many of them were filmed with the utmost seriousness. And that's the perplexing charm of these earnest scenes. They meant it!
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The Return of the Swamp Thing (1989)

Love is a very, very powerful phenomenon. So powerful that it can cause a swamp monster to turn back into human form — at least in the characters' imaginations — during sex.
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The Shining (1980)

Shelley Duvall is running through the Overlook Hotel with a kitchen knife (usual winter in Colorado activities), and sees a man in a suit receiving oral sex from a person in a bear costume. They share a prolonged glance, and then Duvall runs off.
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The Rock (2006)

What makes this so cringe-worthy? Is that Nicolas Cage is supposed to be expressing pleasure, but really just looks like he's studying a very interesting plaque at a museum? Is it that he comes up with a sorbet flavor to describe this sexual encounter, as it's happening ("Peach Sorbet Persuasion")? Is it that it ends with the most typical trope ever — getting a business phone call? It's all three, really.
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The Counselor (2013)

In which Javier Bardem narrates the instance in which Cameron Diaz had sex...with his car. "You see a thing like that, it changes you," Bardem's character says, with his weird spiky hair and tinted sunglasses.
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Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

We should count ourselves lucky that all sexual encounters don't begin the way they do in this Stanley Kubrick film. In the movie, Tom Cruise's character stands before a masked tribunal. Then, the leader coolly demands he remove his clothes.
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Zach and Miri Make a Porno (2014)

Zach (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) get the bright idea to make a porn movie together. We don't know what's more awkward: The stilted foreplay (including Zach's dance of surprise when Miri starts to unbuckle his pants), or the deed itself.
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Maps to the Stars (2015)

Julianne Moore seduces Robert Pattinson from the backseat of a car, and then they have sex on the side of the road. It's hard not to squirm during Moore's line of questioning: "Would you fuck me if I asked you to? For research? How would we do it?"
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Gigli (2003)

Gigli is often called the worst movie of all time, and with come-ons like this, it's no surprise. When Jennifer Lopez's character finally gives in to a tattooed Ben Affleck's advances — never mind the fact that she's playing a lesbian — she uses the phrase "turkey time" to refer to sex. When Affleck's character is confused, she clarifies by saying, "Gobble, gobble" suggestively.
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Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Here's a logic question for you. If a man manages to stay aroused in the middle of a gunfight, does this make him a sociopath?
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Howard The Duck (1986)

The camera only shows a chaste kiss between Howard the Duck and his human friend, but the implication of what comes next still haunts us. How do you solve a problem like the '80s?
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Avatar (2009)

With this symbolic union of tree and tentacle, James Cameron tries to invent a new version of intergalactic sex. The scene toggles between ambitious and ridiculous, but doesn't come close to sexy.
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The Room (2003)

There is a lot to be perturbed about in this scene from Timmy Wiseau's famed cult classic. For one, the jaunty, cartoony soundtrack doesn't set the mood up for love. But more importantly: This guy's face.
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The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

This one's cringeworthy, but intentionally so. Steve Carrell's sexually inexperienced Andy starts hooking up with Elizabeth Banks' Beth, and finds himself in way over his head.
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Bridesmaids (2011)

This extended sex scene shows Annie (Kristen Wiig) in a series of uncomfortable contortions. As Annie states so eloquently mid-coitus, she and Ted (Jon Hamm) are definitely on different rhythms. Ted's mixture of selfishness and cluelessness, unfortunately, is all too familiar.
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Team America: World Police (2004)

Keep your eyes on how creepy the puppets' expressions are.
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American Pie (1999)

Jim (Jason Biggs) needs to fine-tune his literary sensibility. After his friend tells him that third base feels like warm apple pie, Jim takes the simile seriously and tries it out for himself, to incredibly awkward results. Eugene O'Neil's expressive eyebrows say it all.
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Watchmen (2009)

The full moon may hang ripe in the spaceship window, but the stars aren't aligned in this pairing. For one, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" may be a beautiful anthem to love, but it's not sexy. For sexy, play the Jeff Buckley version.

Then, with Malin Akerman overacting and Patrick Wilson decidedly muted, the entire interaction is a tonal mess.
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Superbad (2007)

Evan (Michael Cera) is desperate to lose his virginity, but not like this. Becca (Martha MacIsaac), the girl he's been crushing on from afar, is terribly drunk. Though Evan protests moving forward, Becca insists on continuing — until she vomits everywhere.
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