Apparently, there is a prevailing line of thought in Hollywood that vulgarity
equates to humor. Bodily fluids mean uncontrollable laughter. This is, of course,
the mentality of an eight-year-old boy, so that effectively pigeonholes the intellectual
level of the average Hollywood producer. Not to deride every gross-out comedy,
but something like "The Sweetest Thing" reminds us that few things are less appealing
than a comedy where intoxication is mandatory to stimulate laughter. (Okay, don't
see this movie unless you're drunk or stoned.)
Trying perhaps a little too hard to prove women can be every bit as bawdy as men, "The Sweetest Thing" is a raunchy romantic comedy in the There's Something About Mary vein, focused on a female protagonist. Sexy and bold Christina Walters (Cameron Diaz), after years of avoiding meaningful relationships with men, unexpectedly meets her perfect match (Thomas Jane) one night while hanging out with best girlfriends Courtney (Christina Applegate) and Jane (Selma Blair).
When she finds out the next morning that he's suddenly left town, she and Courtney set out to find him on a wild road trip, encountering a series of hilarious, or so we're asked to believe, misadventures on their journey. Their search ultimately leads them to a surprising discovery and the realization that love is, after all, the sweetest thing.
The comedy has its moments, although they are too few to be satisfying, and the script does its best to push the envelope out with a lot of sophomoric humor that I will pass over here because some of the gags (no pun intended) have to be seen to be believed.
As the blond, fun-loving Christina Walters, Diaz leaves men crying in her wake. We meet them after they've been dumped. Shell-shocked and insecure, they wonder why she never called and what went wrong -- which is a welcome change from the way women are depicted in magazines and movies every day. Diaz is certainly the focal point of the film, and plays her part well. As the female lead's best friends, Christina Applegate ("Just Visiting", "Jane Austin's Mafia!") and Selma Blair ("Legally Blonde", "Cruel Intentions") are okay, but suffer from shallowly developed characters.
For all its attempts to balance the risqué and the romantic, "The Sweetest Thing"
has little to say on the subject of love. Its sincere side seems to have been
left on the cutting room floor along with a whole slew of other story elements.
Part way through the film, for example, Applegate gets a long-term boyfriend,
who turns up for 30 seconds before disappearing completely. It doesn't take long
into the film before one is apt to realize that the cast and crew simply want
to make a silly and adult romantic comedy, have fun while doing so, and invite
viewers along for the ride. In that regard, the film certainly succeeds on its
own, distinct level.
If you are looking for elegant acting, and a strong plot, then most of the movie
is as dead as a blind date with a corpse. Ultimately, though, the overriding effect
of watching these actresses debase themselves is the cinematic equivalent of a
motorway car wreck... it's horrific, but you want to see if anyone will escape
unscathed. All it proves is that sometimes girls are just as dumb (but certainly
no dumber) than the boys. Regardless of how you look at it, there's something
sour about The Sweetest Thing. So watch it if you must, but it's your call.