The Sweetest Thing (2002)
By Jeffrey M. Anderson
Buy The Sweetest Thing on DVD.
While Hollywood movies in general seem to grow worse and worse, comedies may be getting better and better. Of course, the likes of Corky Romano, Novocaine and Sorority Boys still rear their ugly heads from time to time, but some good things have happened recently, too.
Big Trouble cooked up an 85-minute story that moved so fast and jumped around so fluidly we never had time to get bored; all the fat was trimmed off. Likewise, the new film The Sweetest Thing clocks in at 84 minutes, and instead of ending with a chase or the Big Game or the Big Showdown, it just simply ends.
I almost couldn't believe my eyes. How utterly, overwhelmingly refreshing!
Written by Nancy M. Pimental (South Park) and directed by Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions), The Sweetest Thing does follow the standard comedy formula in which the main character realizes his or her fundamental personality flaw and tries to fix it. In this case, Christina (Cameron Diaz) keeps men too much at a distance and never lets a relationship bloom.
All that changes when she meets Peter (Thomas Jane) at a hip San Francisco club. To the girls, it appears that Peter is out partying with his soon-to-be-married brother.
Teamed up with her best friend Courtney (Christina Applegate), Christina hits the road for a small town north of The City to attend the wedding and win her fella. But it's not too hard to predict that it's Peter who's really getting married.
Pimental and Kumble wrap up the plot very quickly, leaving time for some rather sick and very funny There's Something About Mary-type jokes. The "money" joke -- the equivalent of the zipper gag -- has Christina and Courtney's best friend Jane (Selma Blair) caught in the act of fellating a boyfriend and getting his piercing stuck in her throat.
But other scenes are much funnier than that, and that's thanks to Christina Applegate's razor-sharp knockout performance. She steals every scene for herself, thanks to her fearless, open-hearted charm. She develops with Diaz a best-friend camaraderie that includes weird little catch phrases and sayings that no one else will understand. (In comparison, the otherwise charming Diaz looks as if she's merely trying to recapture her goofball Charlie's Angels mood.)
Applegate's funniest moments have Diaz hunting for a bottle of toenail polish on the floor of their car while she's driving (I hope you can picture it), and trying to use a men's restroom when the women's is occupied.
I shouldn't count out Ms. Blair, who was so winning in Cruel Intentions with her singular brand of pouty slapstick, nor the wonderful Parker Posey, who nails a few brief scenes as Peter's wife-to-be. Jane and Jason Bateman, as his brother Roger, seem positively boring (though they, too, have one funny scene on a driving range).
Kumble and Pimental run some of the jokes into the ground and can't avoid a few soft, sticky spots here and there -- especially at the end. But overall, The Sweetest Thing is a fast, funny, highly enjoyable movie. I hope it opens a few doors for the hugely talented Applegate.