The Sweetest Thing

tumblr_m979fjehWz1rceklro1_500The Sweetest Thing pretty much got used as a toilet when it came out. I don’t know why. It’s not great or inspired by any means, but it’s cute and amusing enough. I think it suffered from critics’ general weariness of gross-out humor, and The Sweetest Thing has its share. In the unrated version, anyway (I can’t speak for what was shown in the R-rated theatrical cut, not having seen it), there’s the glory-hole scene, the maggot-ridden-leftovers scene, the pierced-penis-meets-tonsils scene, incessant frank girl talk about sex, and the one segment I know wasn’t in the theatrical version, “The Penis Song.” Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair lead a restaurant full of diners in an exuberant song-and-dance number set to the beat of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” (“You’re too big to fit in here, too big to fit in here,” etc.). The idea of it is funny. It goes on a bit past the point it makes, though.

Jason Bateman is nearly unrecognizable under his beard, but he’s pretty damn funny as the shameless brother of Diaz’ love interest Thomas Jane. Applegate has only improved with age — physically and comedically — and she throws herself wholeheartedly into the role of Diaz’ best friend and roomie. Neglect not Selma Blair, who proves in this film and Storytelling that there’s very little she won’t do on the grounds that it might be bad for her image. I mean, any actress who’s willing to sing the Aerosmith ballad from Armageddon with an off-camera cock in her mouth…

I laughed now and again. Much of it is simply too farcical to be credible in the real-world context the movie sets up, and screenwriter (and South Park veteran) Nancy M. Pimental, apparently eager to prove that girls can write just as raunchy as boys, borrows a bit too much from the Farrelly brand of comic-nightmare public humiliation (most of which involves poor Selma Blair). But the leads are fun to spend 90 minutes with, the dialogue is sometimes sharp, and the movie in general takes its cue from Cameron Diaz’ freewheeling ass-jiggle down the street right at the start. Plus, any comedy that makes room for a bit by Parker Posey as a bride who insists “I’m beautiful! I’m beautiful!” has its heart in the right place.

The sight of blond, bubbly Diaz surrounding herself with two best buds — one brunette, one dark-haired — certainly recalls the dynamic of Charlie’s Angels (though this film did not repeat the earlier blockbuster’s box-office, suggesting that Diaz still has yet to be an asses-in-seats star all by herself). And when the ladies gab about sex the movie plays a bit like a cruder version of Sex and the City (the city here being San Francisco). If you’re gonna rent it, hold out for the unrated disc. It’s the gaudy red box. If you’re gonna go with it, go all the way.

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