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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Sweetest Thing
The Sweetest Thing
Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // August 20, 2002
List Price: $27.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by D.K. Holm | posted August 17, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
This is the film that Jeffrey Wells walked out on.

Critics tend not to do that. Janet Maslin, late of the New York Times, walked out of The Last House on the Left, if memory serves, and later said she would never do that again.

Wells confided that the film was so horrible that he sneaked away and took a nap across the seats of a nearby auditorium.

It's hard to blame him. The Sweetest Thing is a rank film. It strains hard to charm the audience, but uses gross-out humor about maggot-ridden Chinese food and lethal glory holes, and seems to strive to show what girls are really like but ends up presenting characters whom you would never want to meet in the real world.

Directed by Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions), it's from a script credited to Nancy M. Pimental, who gained some notoriety for selling the script for one million dollars. Pimental has a cameo in the film, at a disco. Shown throwing up, of course.

The tale is a kind of Sex in the City by the Bay set in San Francisco (but mostly shot in Los Angeles), about three friends and their sexual exploits. The anchor is Christina Walters (Cameron Diaz), who doesn't seem to have any job but to dazzle men and then leave them hanging. We know this because an opening montage shows a number of men addressing the camera (and an unseen interviewer) discussing the femme fatale. That the psychology of this isn't really explained doesn't seem to bother anyone, even when Christina seems to evince a note of loneliness and isolation.

Her other two friends are divorce lawyer Courtney Jameson (Christina Applegate, who has the best armpits in Hollywood) and clothing store clerk Jane Burns (whose name should be Rug Burns, and is played by Selma Blair of Happiness). When Jane's b.f. dumps her, the gang drag her to a nightclub, where Christina meets cute with Peter (Thomas Jane). Little does she know, however, that the real estate agent is himself about to be married. She learns this when she and Courtney drive to his home town to watch a wedding they think is his brother's (Jason Bateman). Several plot machinations later, and Peter is in 'Frisco, trying to find the true love of his life.

Suffice it to say that the film suffers severe Narrative Deficit Disorder. The thin plot is tricked out with a bunch of gross out sequences. In one, the girls find a tin foil sculpture full of maggots. Christian throws it out the window, but because the sculpture is in the shape of a bird, it flies back and splatters their windshield. Somehow, this is suppose to be funny.

The whole movie is like this and wouldn't be worth talking about except that it is filled with actors who could have taken a truly funny script and done something with it. Diaz continues to be the perfect girlfriend, Applegate has impeccable timing, and Blair is endearing even when being the worst troublemaker. The trouble with The Sweetest Thing is that it unlike The Trouble with Mary, there is very little true sweetness to it.


The DVD

VIDEO: Columbia Tristar went all out for a film that made but $24 million off its $43 million dollar budget. The wide screen image (1.85:1) image, enhanced for wide screen televisions, is sharp and bright, with no obvious flaws. The consumer has the choice of watching the film full-frame. Anthony B. Richmond's cinematography does its job, which is make the girls look beautiful. Simultaneously available is an unrated version of the film, with about six minutes of additional footage, which can be found in three places, the opening montage of guys complaining about Christina, at the disco, and a "morning after" song about men's penises performed in a Chinese restaurant. These scenes are highlighted on the unrated disc's scene selection menu.

SOUND: The audio is more than adequate in Dolby Digital 5.1 (with French). It's a mostly gabby comedy, with a lot of music. The disc also offers English and French subtitles, and there is a game French track in 2.0.

MENUS: Mostly animated musical menus dance you through the abundance of features. The disc offers 28 chapter scene selection for the 84 minute movie (the unrated version is 90 minutes but also has 28 chapters).

PACKAGING: The keep case has the original poster, which has a white background (the unrated version has a red cover with a variation of the poster image). The label on the disc is white, with red lettering and a red kiss imprint (the unrated version has a red lable).

EXTRAS: The Sweetest Thing is as packed as if it were Lawrence of Arabia.

Crew Audio Track Director Kumble, DP Richmond, writer Nancy Pimental, exec producer Stuart Besser, exec producer Ricky Strauss, and Cathy Konrad, producer. As with most group effort yak tracks, this is a wasted effort. Recorded one week before the film opened, the gang had little knowledge of what was in store for them, critically or commercially. Nor are they focuses. Phones ring, everyone interrupts everyone, the women discuss hair. It's a disaster. But at least one learns the reason for a perplexing piece of trivia: Why director James Mangold shows up in a scene in Chapter 22, as Applegate's new boyfriend. It turns out that Mangold is married to producer Konrad. What isn't explained is why almost everyone associated with the film, including Kumble, Mangold, and Bateman, all look almost exactly the same. (The audio track for the unrated version isn't much better. Recorded three weeks after the film opened—and disappeared—it includes Kumble, Diaz, Applegate, Blair, and Bateman, and has even worse crosstalk, accompanied by what seems a herd of whoopee cushions. The only true similarity between the two tracks is that in both the women seem obsessed with talking about hair.)

Revealing Hollywood: Exposing Writer Nancy M. Pimental This is some kind of weird parody of a type of TV show this reviewer has never seen. It provides a mock day in the life of screenwriter Pimental (South Park). She exploits her family for writing, copies her friends (one played by the attractive Kate Walsh), and moons over her pool boy. Pimental is fashion model (as opposed to movie star) pretty, but her taste for gross out humor is rather daunting.

Making Ofs There's an eight minute promotional film about the making of the movie in which everyone jokes about each other as if they are good sports who have just made All About Eve.

Trailers, et cetera There are about 60 trailers for films new and old on the disc: The Sweetest Thing, Charlie's Angels, Cruel Intentions, Enough, Mr. Deeds, My Best Friend's Wedding, New Best Friend, Panic Room, and Wild Things. There are also brief storyboard to screen comparisons for two scenes, the foul tinfoil fowl, and a scene with a Hell's Angel driving next to the two girls as they drive to the wedding. The box says there is suppose to be a DVD-ROM link to the film's website, but I couldn't that feature. Finally, there are cursory credits for the lead cast, and the writer and director.


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