The Sweetest Thing (2002) — Can girls be as gross as guys?

“Don’t go looking for Mr. Right. Look for Mr. Right Now.”

Justin’s rating: My car’s much, much cleaner than hers. Yet, that’s not saying much.

Justin’s review: Here’s a question that I didn’t really want to ponder, but this film forced me to consider: Are girls as gross as guys? Or at least, can they be?

As a few honest women friends have admitted to me, girls do experience flatulence. They just do it in secret — hiding in a closet, digging an underground tunnel, masking it as a grenade explosion. They even have been known to burp and readjust underwear, and they casually deal with a monthly issue that few men can even mention without hyperventilating and swooning.

The Sweetest Thing takes the position that girls can be just as crass and vulgar as, I guess, really crass and vulgar guys. While this may be distressing to some males who thought they had the sole market on snips and snails and puppy dog tails (what kind of MESSED-UP nursery rhyme is THAT?), I can see it being the case. I wouldn’t think any filmmaker would want to use this angle to further the feminist cause, but I suppose the playing field is levelled for disgusting bodily fluid-related jokes.

Here we’ve got three female friends unafraid of being as gross as they wanna be. There’s Christina (Cameron Diaz), a manipulative relationship-monger; Courtney (Christina Applegate), who seems to be seeing a fairly nice guy; and Jane (Selma Blair), who continues her streak of sexy/geeky roles as the Fall Girl for most icky sex gags here. The plot is: on its way. Seriously. The guy at the office told me it would be here by Monday, but it’s Friday and I’m not waiting a minute past five.

Lacking even the somewhat-inspirational love story of role model There’s Something About Mary, The Sweetest Thing disintegrates into a series of situations that are more or less (or extremely less) funny. I used to work at Pizza Hut as a dishwasher back in my teens, and I spent day after day digging through bus tubs full of cold Pepsi, half-eaten food and other things that no man was meant to touch. Yet, there are a couple scenes in this film that had me gagging due to how disgusting they were.

Could something here be salvaged if you cut out the rotten parts of the apple? Perhaps. For one thing, I haven’t seen a movie like this where girls are goofy, nutty and insanely fun friends in quite some time. Watching them interact (particularly when pulling pranks on each other) is definitely the highlight. The Sweetest Thing also has an edge of unreality to it, which gives them a bit of leeway to make their own rules from time to time (including a truly tacky song in a restaurant that ends up involving the entire place in a sing-and-dance routine).

The Sweetest Thing was helmed by Cruel Intentions director Roger Kumble, a man who I quite despise for making one of the most mean-spirited films in the past decade. This isn’t all that much better. His whole angle here is to prove that girls can be as gross as guys — but that’s not a great reason to see it.

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