(movie review from 2002, when I originally reviewed the movie and it was originally called, "Slap Her, She's French")
A couple of years ago, actress Piper Perabo got her major break in "Coyote Ugly", a light bit of late Summer comedy from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. While that film wasn't anything great, Perabo at least brought some heart and energy to the main character. Still, even with fine performances, Perabo's choice of pictures ("Coyote" and "Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle") made it rather difficult to take her seriously.
Cut to last year, when I watched Perabo in director Lea Pool's "Lost and Delirious" and found a completely different actress. Perabo's passionate performance was heartbreaking and deeply emotional. It was far above any effort the actress had offered prior. Again, Perabo shines in "Slap Her, She's French", but this time, she's really the only thing that's promising in this largely predictable feature, which plays like "Drop Dead Gorgeous" transported South to Texas.
Jane McGregor stars as Starla, a cheerleader and the most popular girl at the local high school. She has the local talent competitions wrapped around her finger and wins the latest effort by declaring that her family will host a foreign exchange student during the school year. In the bargain, Starla's flunking French and maybe the new guest could help her out - or maybe not.
In steps Genevieve LePlouff (Piper Perabo), a mousey French girl who seems shy and often admires Starla. However, signs start to point to the possibility that Genevieve may have more up her sleeve than originally thought - she starts to take Starla's boyfriend, pull in her popularity and trick Starla into getting booted off the cheerleading squad.
Here's where the picture gets into several problems. First, Starla simply isn't a likable character - she's entirely too full of herself, isn't terribly nice and is generally phony. She's supposed to be the hero here, but I wasn't entirely sure of it - I found Perabo's character far more entertaining, as the actress portrays the character's rather sinister motives with amusing energy - she seems to be having a lot of fun with the part.
Aside from the amusing foreign exchange student aspect - which isn't developed nearly enough and doesn't really start to kick in until about 30 minutes in - the film is a lot more of the same. Similar to Kirstin Dunst's character in "Drop Dead Gorgeous" (who I believe, if memory serves me correctly , wanted to be Diane Sawyer), Starla wants to be Katie Couric. Starla eventually falls for the school reporter she previously hates, but the romantic aspect is not well-developed and simply isn't believable. The film didn't seem to portray Texans affectionately, either: there's really not a sympathetic character in the bunch.
"Slap Her, She's French" does live up to the title (the film includes a couple of mildly entertaining slap fights between the girls), but it's unfortunate that the film doesn't live up to it's potential. Although most of the film is built from teen movie cliches, the exchange student aspect should have been played up more strongly, especially due to Perabo's marvelous performance.
Note: I watched this film in a screening in the Summer of 2002, and it was set to be released in the Fall of that year under the title, "Slap Her, She's French". It was never released in the US, but went on to do decent business overseas. In late 2004, the film was aired by ABC Family, under the new, inoffensive title, "She Gets What She Wants". No trace of "Slap"ing remains, as this DVD edition even has "She Gets What She Wants" as the title in the credits. It's been nearly three years since I've seen the film, so I'm not sure exactly what's been edited out, but the movie appears to be the same, as some instances of innuendo and language (as well as one drug-related scene) still appeared.
VIDEO: "She Gets What She Wants" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Lion's Gate Entertainment. The picture quality is generally very good, although there are a few considerable faults with the transfer. The first issue is edge enhancement - there's several scenes where mild edge enhancement is clearly visible. The other issue is pixelation, as there's a couple of traces of it apparent in some of the backgrounds. On a positive note, the print appeared to be in excellent condition, with no flaws.
The film's bright, vivid color palette seemed accurately presented here, as colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns. Sharpness and detail appeared somewhat above-average throughout, as the picture looked crisp and well-defined, but never razor-sharp.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is certainly a "comedy" mix, with the forward speakers doing the majority of the work. Surrounds kicked in a couple of times for some slight ambience and music reinforcement, but these moments were brief. Audio quality was good, with crisp dialogue and music that could seem pretty dynamic at times.
EXTRAS: The film's trailer and trailers for other Lion's Gate titles.
Final Thoughts: "Slap Her" has some moments of hilarity, but it doesn't hit its targets hard enough and a few too many stretches seem flat. Perabo's performance is the real highlight of the film. Lion's Gate provides a DVD with fine audio/video quality and limited supplements. Maybe worth a rental.