“The Sweetest Thing” purports to be a movie about Girl Power and how independent women have become in the new millennium, but it’s nothing of the sort. Instead, “Thing” is a predictable romantic comedy that further forwards the notion that what all women really want is a man to “complete” her life. (This notion, incidentally, is the bane of all feminist groups anywhere, but I digress.) Seeing as how “Thing” was written by Nancy Pimental, a woman, this time feminist groups can’t blame the whole idea of man as savior on, well, men.
The best part about “The Sweetest Thing” is that it does what it does very well. The comedy is on target and the performances come across as effortless. It also doesn’t hurt that the film is anchored by three especially attractive and photogenic women in Cameron Diaz (“The Mask”), Christina Applegate (“Just Visiting”), and Selma Blair (“Legally Blonde”). The men are led by Thomas Jane (“Deep Blue Sea”) as the love interest and former TV sitcom star Jason Bateman shows up as Jane’s brother. But who cares, really? This is a Chick Flick, and the guys are just window dressing. (Gee, now I know how women feel watching movies like “Rambo”…)
“Thing” follows Diaz’s Christina as, after meeting Jane’s Peter at a nightclub, she decides to hike down to Peter’s neck of the woods (a small town in California) to “hook up.” Christina believes Peter might be the love of her life and can’t stand to lose him to inaction. Spurred on by her two best friends (the girls all live in one flat), Christina goes looking for true love — and (excuse the clich’) hijinks happen along the way.
The writer of “Thing” is Nancy Pimental, who for a couple of seasons co-hosted a game show on Comedy Central called “Win Ben Stein’s Money” (the other host was Ben Stein, natch). Being that I am a big fan of the show, I had a lot of opportunity to see Pimental and get a good feel for her comedy. Like “Thing,” Pimental claims to be a thoroughly Modern Woman, and perhaps she is, because I doubt if she could survive in any other era besides this one. She’s often carefree, always sexy, and wields lowbrow humor and a smart tongue like a shield.
“The Sweetest Thing” is like Pimental — carefree, sexy, and oftentimes lowbrow. Consider a scene in a roadside bathroom where Diaz’s Christina discovers what a “glory hole” is after a penis stabs her in the eye through a hole in the wall. In another scene, one of the three friends gets her mouth stuck on her boyfriend’s penis, which has a ring at the end of it; the penis ends up stuck inside the girl’s mouth because the ring has gotten tangled up in the girl’s tonsil during — well, you know.
To be honest, much of the lowbrow humor in “Thing” undermines the film’s core, which is of the bonds of friendship. The easy rapport between the three friends is readily obvious and I laughed at much of the gross out humor. Although a sequence where one of the friends has to get a semen stain off her dress after a night of debauchery goes on for just a little bit longer than it should have. Also, a couple of impromptu fantasy-like dance numbers add charm to the proceedings.
I am by no means an expert on the Modern Female condition, but I’m inclined to think that Pimental, who has probably been in all of these situations (although not so exaggerated, of course) at one point or another in her life, knows what she’s talking about. The penis-in-the-mouth and glory hole jokes are, in all likelihood, part of a slightly hyperactive imagination and not based on personal experiences. The rest of the film, with its focus on the girls in their private moments, on the other hand, rings true.
The film works as a harmless and sexy comedy, and the 3 leads are hopelessly affable. Although I have to say, I never did know what the girls did for a living. I know that one of the girls work at a clothing store, and one is a lawyer or something, but what did Christina do again? Oh, who cares, really?
Roger Kumble (director) / Nancy Pimental (screenplay)
CAST: Cameron Diaz …. Christina Walters
Christina Applegate …. Courtney Rockcliffe
Thomas Jane …. Peter Donahue
Selma Blair …. Jane Burns
Jason Bateman …. Roger Donahue