The movies of Robert Downey Sr. are all surreal and uncomfortable, and No More Excuses settles into that groove from the very beginning. It’s five stories: one, about the assassination of President Garfield; two, a civil war soldier finds himself in the present day; three, a man representing SIPA (the Society of Indecency Prevention in Animals) talks about the evils of pantsless pets; four, a man breaks into an apartment to have sex with a woman, only to find her more welcoming than he expected; five, a series of interviews with people in New York City singles bars, shot by Downey as footage for an ABC news segment. The whole thing becomes a spinning collage of various stories, none of them interconnected aside from them all being interconnected.
A story about the sexual conduct of America, No More Excuses is a movie about the narrative that we’re a culture on the brink of falling into sexual deviance, and that there is a constant crisis of morality happening in every corner of this nation. On the one hand, you have the story of the intruder, a ridiculous sex romp that is absurdist and free-wheeling. On the other you have SIPA, that argues that if we don’t clothe our dogs, they will one day rise up and overthrow us for subjecting them to a life of indecency. And in the middle? The crush of reality, millions of young people on the prowl looking for love and sex wherever they can find it, the teeming mass of the basic instincts of this strange human being animal.
The thing is, the slope of morality has always been slippery, but only in the framing of the uptight status quo refusing to admit the realities of those around them. Young people get together and have sex. Lots of it. Adults do too. That was true in the 60s, that’s true now, and the movie even illustrates through the seeming non sequitur of President Garfield that it was true in the 1800s. Indecency is forever, sexual revolution is in many ways only the myth of the changing of generations told and re-told, and there will always be some dour faced middle aged guy denouncing it all as the end times for wholesome American values.