Directed by Peter M. Cohen
Cast: Amanda Peet, Brian Van Holt, Jonathan Abrahams, Zorie Barber, Judah Domke.
2000 85 minutes
Rated: (for profanity and sexuality).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, September 2, 2000.
A misogynistic and angry movie passing itself off as a raucous comedy, "Whipped," directed by Peter M. Cohen, features almost nothing worthy of recommending it. The five central characters are unlikable and despicable players who get off on using others for nothing more than sex, and whose whole lives revolve around this one fact. None of them are ever attempted to be developed as fully thought-out people, nor do they have any interests outside of what is strictly required by the, albeit slim, storyline. You wouldn't think that a writer or director would have the courage to film a romance with nary an ounce of heart or soul, but Cohen has done just that--and fails miserably at every turn.
The film centers on four Manhattan-based best friends in their 20's who apparently do not like each other at all, and meet every Sunday at a local diner to discuss their sexual conquests from that week's past. Brad (Brian Van Holt) is a hot-shot dimwit who believes he is God's gift to women; Zeke (Zorie Barber) is an arty club-goer who spends his time reading and having threesomes; Jonathan (Jonathan Abrahams) is less experienced with women, but more experienced than his friends when it comes to lube; and the tic-infested Eric (Judah Comke) used to be like his other three friends, but is now unhappily married.
Everything changes for each of the bachelors one week when they all meet a wonderful young woman whom they surprisingly start to like. What they don't expect is that they have all met the same woman--the strikingly beautiful and articulate Mia (Amanda Peet). Each of them care enough for her and their potential relationships that they mutually agree with Mia when she suggests that she be allowed to continue seeing all three of them at the same time, since she likes them all equally. What they fail to recognize is that Mia, an obvious player herself, has an ulterior motive for dating them all.
While there is nothing wrong, in essence, with making a film about a group of womanizers (and in this case, also a manizer), writer-director Cohen almost immediately derails the whole undertaking when it becomes clear that he has absolutely no insight to give, whether it be about the characters or the general plot, nor has he written one person who is the least bit intelligent or warm-hearted. It is difficult--okay, nearly impossible--to get involved in a movie if there is no one to identify with or care about. The superficial beings that populate "Whipped" apparently originated on another planet, as there are few signs of human emotions ever presented.
As for its comedic aspect, the amount of laughs that result from viewing this thankfully brief 85-minute trifle could probably be counted on one hand, and the majority of those come from something occurring that is so wacky and off-the-radar that you can't help but chuckle at their sheer stupidity.
As the four jackasses, Brian Van Holt, Jonathan Abrahams, Zorie Barber, and Judah Comke are adequate at best, although considering the one-note pricks that they were asked to play, 'adequate' is about as good as these actors could ever hope for. Who is absolutely bewitching, however, is the bright Amanda Peet (the scene-stealer in 2000's otherwise glum "The Whole Nine Yards"). Peet's Mia isn't really much more likable than the guys featured in the movie, particularly once her own dastardly plans are revealed, but she takes her thinly veiled character and runs with it. Once Peet moves away, once and for all, from such wastes of time as "Whipped," she has the charisma and ability to be a major star and a talented actress.
Peter M. Cohen should be thanking Amanda Peet this instant for being the sole reason "Whipped" is receiving a generous one-and-a-half star rating from me, because it certainly has nothing else of worthwhile quality. Having seen the movie, I wonder what Cohen was hoping to achieve with such a cold, lifeless directing debut. Has he been burned so many times by both men and women that he simply hates the human race, in general? Or does he merely delight in portraying people of no substance and little feeling, doing things that are cruel and hurtful to others, all at the expense of a cheap laugh? On second thought, "Whipped" is the perfect title for this movie, because everyone who is suckered into a theater showing this rubbish will feel just that--whipped.
©2000 by Dustin Putman