Here is an example of a film where the audience needs to buy into one sequence to go along with the rest of the movie. Not only did I not buy into this scene, I thought the whole movie seemed ridiculous as a result of how ineptly said sequence was handled. Unfortunately, that's the least of this film's problems. "This film" being "The Sweetest Thing", the new film from once promising director Roger Kumble, who had previously directed "Cruel Intentions", which I liked and "Cruel Intentions 2", which was, quite frankly, utter crap.
"The Sweetest Thing" is elevated a few notches above crap by its lead actresses, who are fairly energetic and rather likable. Christina (Cameron Diaz) and Courtney (Christina Applegate) are two young professionals who go clubbing at night and - well, that's all we're really told about them. One night, Christina tries to set recently dumped friend Jane (Selma Blair) up with a random guy named Peter (Thomas Jane). At first, she insults him for having to have to leave, but the two run into each other once again and she starts to fall for him.
This is the sequence I'd previously been discussing in the first paragraph. The two are forced by the screenplay to fall for one another - there's no sparks, no nothing between the two. It's an awfully awkwardly handled meet cute that goes on too long without anything happening. Christina believes that Peter is serving as the best man at his brother's wedding in a small town about three hours away, so it's Courtney who drags her up off the couch and into the car. Obviously, it's only a matter of time until we reach a usual "romantic comedy" ending. It's just that I've never really experienced a romantic comedy whose middle is simply badly written padding.
See one particular sequence where the two girls visit a dress shop (they had to strip down to their underwear, of course, given that a toilet in a really gross bathroom exploded on them) and Courtney says - and I quote - "do we have time for a movie montage?" It's a forced, cringe-worthy line. The two girls try on lots of different outfits and mug for the camera - ok, maybe worth a chuckle for about a second - but the sequence goes on and on and on and on for a ridiculous amount of time (even ripping off "Dumb and Dumber" two or three times) until it's no longer amusing or even unfunny - it's irritating.
Some wonder how the Farrelly Brothers are able to (well, usually) are able to make successful gross-out comedies. Their jokes usually seem unforced and natural to the plot - the characters slide into the situation rather than be pushed and pulled around to make the joke work. "The Sweetest Thing" cranks out the gross-out jokes and none of them are very funny. The ending, which has what looks to be the entire neighborhood singing along with Jane to get herself out of a bad situation, isn't funny to begin with, but the whole sing-along aspect of it is idiotic and overdone.
This is absolutely not a good movie, but the one aspect that keeps it from jumping off into total awfulness is the three leads. Diaz is underrated and has really become a wonderful comedic talent - a beautiful girl not afraid to make herself look like an idiot in the name of comedy. She's got terrific comedic timing and she really, really deserves better than this. Applegate isn't as successful, but Diaz and Applegate have good chemistry together, which is fairly important because their road trip is the majority of the film. Blair, who can be utterly hilarious, is wasted in the worst kind of role in this kind of film - a character whose existence seems to be purely to skip from utter embarassment to utter embarassment.
Kumble, who I believe admitted on the "Cruel Intentions" commentary that he'd never filmed anything before that, does not display any sort of skill in directing comedy. On the other hand, I doubt many directors could have found much to work with in Nancy M. Pimental ("South Park")'s screenplay, which is surprisingly unfunny for someone involved with the occasionally very sharp and clever "Park".