Like the recent "Sorority Boys
" and "National Lampoon's Van Wilder
," "The Sweetest Thing" is yet another raunchy, sexually explicit comedy. What makes it stand outside the pack is two-fold. For one, the main characters are not kids in high school or college, but adults out in the real world. And two, it refreshingly pushes the women, not men, to the forefront of the shenanigans. Energetically directed by Roger Kumble (1999's "Cruel Intentions
") and written by Nancy M. Pimental (TV's "South Park"), "The Sweetest Thing" proves that girls really can have as much fun as the boys.
Christina Walters (Cameron Diaz) is an attractive, commitment-shy 28-year-old who spends most of her nights out on the town clubbing with best friends Courtney (Christina Applegate) and Jane (Selma Blair). When Jane is dumped by her umpteenth boyfriend, the other girls take her to a club to cheer her up. While there, Christina squeezes the butt of, and later literally falls into, the charmingly handsome Peter (Thomas Jane). Of course Christina believes it could be true love, but misses her chance when she backs down from a party invite he gives her. With Peter's brother, Roger (Jason Bateman), getting married several hours away, Courtney convinces Christina to finally get over her seemingly eternal hang-ups, track him down, and confess her feelings to him at the ceremony. What follows does not quite go as planned for anyone involved.
Part sweet romantic comedy, part outrageous gag-fest, and part road movie, "The Sweetest Thing" is one of the biggest delights of the spring season. At 84 quick minutes, the film never runs out of steam and is so fast-paced and charming that the time truly flies by. As for the bawdy humor, jokes range from a very embarrassing stain Jane gets on Courtney's dress after a one-night-stand, to Jane getting stuck in a compromising position when she gets a certain piercing hooked on her tonsils, to a curbside bathroom peephole Christina encounters when slipping into the men's room.
But there are also more innocent laughs that hit a home run with their sheer ingenuity, such as when Christina and Courtney stop in a clothing store en route to the wedding. While trying on outfits in the dressing room, Courtney suddenly asks, "Do we have time for a movie music montage?" What follows is an outrageous montage spoof, complete with digs at Olivia Newton John, Madonna, and Julia Roberts. For my money, "The Sweetest Thing" is more entertaining and, dare I say it, funnier than its obvious inspiration, 1998's "There's Something About Mary."
The cast has so much fun in this intentionally wacky, frothy concoction that it naturally bleeds over into the audience. Cameron Diaz makes for an adorable heroine who, at the drop of a hat, can give a dark, searing performance in 2001's "Vanilla Sky
" and then make something as light and silly as this. Diaz is a genuine star who also happens to be a splendid actress. Equally enjoyable is Christina Applegate (2001's "Just Visiting
"), as close pal Courtney, finally in a major motion picture role that does her full justice, and Selma Blair (2001's "Legally Blonde
"), as the hazard-prone Jane. Diaz, Applegate, and Blair have such a natural rapport with each other that they are instantly believable as real best friends.
On the male front, Thomas Jane (2001's "Original Sin
") and past TV star of "The Hogan Family" Jason Bateman get handed the obligatory roles of the love interest and sidekick. How nice it is to see the men getting stuck in these types of parts for once, although I hasten to say they are certainly not bad ones.
If anything negative is to be said about the picture, it is the constant humiliation Jane must go through in practically every scene. While often good for a laugh, after a while you can't help but feel almost embarrassed for Selma Blair. Regardless, screenwriter Pimental and director Kumble surprisingly have some valuable insights into the dating world to go with its outlandish comicality. Along with a snappy soundtrack of popular hits from the last four decades and a cast of characters you care about, "The Sweetest Thing" is a genuine blast.
©2002 by Dustin Putman