out of five
: 87 mins
A hit-and-miss attempt to blend gross-out comedy with a standard rom-com plot, this just about works, thanks a number of hilarious gags and a terrific performance from Christina Applegate.
If The Sweetest Thing is anything to go by, the Farrelly Brothers have a lot to answer for. At the heart of the film is a typical rom-com plot, although it is also chock-full of gross out gags that would be equally at home in films like American Pie or Road Trip. Remarkably, despite the shoe-horned-in nature of said gags, many of them produce the desired result, though the fact that the film ultimately works is largely down to the spirited playing of its three stars.
Forget Mr Right, Give Me Mr Right Now
Set in San Francisco (which makes a nice change from New York), the film stars Cameron Diaz as Christina Walters, a good-time girl whose dating philosophy is ‘Forget Mr Right, give me Mr Right Now’. That is until she meets Peter (Thomas Jane) at a nightclub – the two of them ‘connect’, but Christina doesn’t act on it, only to have Peter suddenly disappear the next day. This prompts the time-honoured road trip, in which Christina and her best friend Courtney (Christina Applegate) try to find Peter at a wedding he’d mentioned at the nightclub.
Meanwhile, their friend and flatmate Jane (Selma Blair, from Storytelling and Legally Blonde) struggles with her own problems, including a hilarious extended sketch in a dry-cleaners where she’s gone to have an embarrassing stain removed (“Father Jack – what are you doing here?” etc), and, in the film’s signature moment (think ‘zipper incident’ from There’s Something About Mary), getting ‘trapped’ on a boyfriend’s piercing whilst performing oral sex…
Scriptwriter Nancy Pimental is one of the co-writers of South Park, so it’s no surprise that many of the jokes are quite close to the bone. Most of the visual jokes and set-pieces work, though viewers will probably wish they’d been spared Diaz and Applegate discussing ‘punani odour’. That said, for every joke that doesn’t work, there’s a decent laugh every few minutes, particularly during the –ahem- lengthy ‘penis song’ routine (reportedly cut out of the American version, which is a shame, as it’s one of the best bits).
Where The Sweetest Thing really works is in its casting – Cameron Diaz, aside from looking gorgeous, throws herself into the whole thing with such joyful enthusiasm that it’s hard not to be swept along with her. It’s Christina Applegate who steals the show, though – she gets all the best lines and shows a gift for comedy that was only occasionally allowed to surface in her TV stint as dumb blonde Kelly Bundy on Married With Children. Here’s hoping she graduates to better leading roles after this.
There’s also excellent support from Selma Blair and –in a brief cameo- Parker Posey as the bride. As for Thomas Jane, he’s not particularly special, but then it’s not really his movie.
In short, The Sweetest Thing isn’t nearly as bad as you may have heard. The performances are infectious, to the point where you’ll find yourself laughing despite your better instincts. If you can stomach the borderline-offensive gross-out material, then this is worth watching.