The DVD of Itty Bitty Titty Committee I received for review is a pre-release screener that does not reflect the final product. There are no menus, no special features, and a disclaimer that appears over the picture at regular intervals. Thus, you will find the technical sections of this review to be a little sparse, as what I am viewing does not reflect the final product.
In her two previous films, director Jamie Babbit has explored various aspects of gender and sexual politics via genres as disparate as comedy and horror. Unfortunately, neither of those films, But I'm a Cheerleader or The Quiet, got a fair shake at the box office despite garnering a loyal fanbase. For her newest film, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, she has returned to her more satirical roots--her early career began on the TV show Popular--but without the bite that made Cheerleader so good.
Things start out well enough. Recent high-school graduate Anna (Melonie Diaz, Be Kind Rewind) is in the doldrums because her girlfriend dumped her and she didn't get into the college of her choice. Taking the time to sort out what she wants to do, she lives at home and works the reception desk at a plastic surgery clinic specializing in boob jobs. One night, she runs into sassy and sexy Sadie (Nicole Vicius, Last Days) spray-painting graffiti on the outside of the clinic. Sadie is part of the C(I)A, Clits Into Action, an underground political activist group advocating the liberation of women and specializing in art pranks and vandalism. Sadie invites Anna to join the loose handful of women in their activities, indoctrinating the na´ve girl into a world of sexual liberation and radical ideas.
These early scenes are fun and full of youthful energy. The C(I)A, led by the strident Shuli (Popular's Carly Pope), enjoy fiery political debates and seem to have a pretty good time pulling their stunts. Babbit tries to have just as much fun shooting them in action, creating music video-style montages cut to female-centric punk music by the likes of Le Tigre and Sleater Kinney. It's a unique premise with a lot of promise and a lot of room for Babbit and screenwriters Tina Mabry and Abigail Shafran to toss around philosophical ideas without getting too heavy about it.
Unfortunately, for as alluring as Sadie is and as much as she inspires the other girls to act, she is also an emotional wreck whose personal problems tend to screw up the momentum of the group. Anna is not the first girl whom she has lured into the C(I)A via flirtation, nor is Anna the first girl to be disappointed to discover that Sadie is in a relationship with a much older woman (Melanie Mayron) and is far too needy to ever get out of it. Predictably, with all of this sexual tension, the dynamic becomes far more about the personal relationships, and the unique premise disintegrates.
This kind of story has been told a million times before, and when the girls are bickering over who has slept with whom, the fun and the originality of that first half hour are completely gone. It's a drastic shift in tone, and when Itty Bitty Titty Committee tries to shift back into comedy for the finale, it's a little too late and way off the mark. Though the girls' early pranks are supposed to be a little silly, they were at least believable. The last big hurrah that Anna devises to get the team back together is ludicrous, seemingly lifted from any number of teen comedies from the 1980s. Though the story changes, the tone from the second act remains the same, and this renders the C(I)A's big stunt rather toothless. Instead of ratcheting up the comedy as the movie progresses, Babbit has been turning it down until Itty Bitty Titty Committee totally flatlines.