'Sweetest Thing' a lowbrow chick flick

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2002

Women now have a gross-out comedy of their own.

"The Sweetest Thing," which opens Friday, proves that a lowbrow chick flick can be just as cretinous as a big dumb guy movie.

''Rollerball'' already has it beat for worst movie so far this year, but ''The Sweetest Thing'' has the early lead for most vapid.

You'd think the usually winsome Cameron Diaz could phone in her role and still lift a comedy into the tolerable range. This time out, Diaz actually is upstaged by co-star Christina Applegate, who wangles a few laughs out of material so empty it would be lavish praise to call it vegetative.

Talented co-star Selma Blair, however, winds up the Jason Biggs, ''American Pie''-style patsy of some pathetically lame sex sight gags. (Director Roger Kumble, who worked with Blair on ''Cruel Intentions,'' notes that the actress will do anything in a role; Kumble means it as a compliment, but Blair may want to re-evaluate her work ethic given the results here.)

Diaz plays Christina Walters, a brash, lusty woman whose love-'em-and-leave-'em attitude deposits the carcass of many a woebegone suitor behind her.

Christina is introduced through pseudo-interviews with failed aspirants to her affections. The sequence is mildly amusing, though it's a cheesy knockoff of the far cleverer talk-to-the-camera confessionals occasionally used by ''Sex and the City,'' a show that has more smarts, heart and humor in one pedicured toenail than ''The Sweetest Thing'' has in its whole cadaver.

After that opening, the movie declines into mind-numbing prattle and imbecilic bathroom or bedroom slapstick as Christina and gal pals Courtney (Applegate) and Jane (Blair) giggle and jiggle through the joys of noncommittal passion.

''Don't go looking for Mr. Right. Look for Mr. Right Now,'' Christina proclaims in one of the movie's few foxy lines. ''And eventually, if he's worthy, that Now part is just going to drop away.''

One night at a happening club, Christina bumps into a worthy one, Peter (Thomas Jane), a hunk with whom she clicks to the point that days later, she's still daydreaming about him. On a whim, Christina and Courtney set off on a road trip to track him down, setting up a lot of bad potty humor intercut with Jane's inane sexual shenanigans.

Diaz and her cast mates, including Parker Posey in a brief appearance as a reluctant bride, hurl themselves into the roles with vigor. But they come off as self-absorbed, monotonous simpletons because of the vacuous script credited to Nancy M. Pimental, who has written for ''South Park'' and was co-host of ''Win Ben Stein's Money.''

With drolly playful delivery, Applegate periodically rises above the script. Those few highlights, though, accentuate how dumb the surrounding action is.

In a brief hotel fantasy sequence, Christina imagines Peter as the perfect man, precisely tending to her every sexual whim and arranging for room service to wheel in bucket-sized dishes of ice cream.

''I had them remove all the calories for you,'' dream Peter tells her.

That sums up this dippy movie: a romantic farce with all the calories removed.

''The Sweetest Thing,'' from Sony's Columbia Pictures, is rated R for strong sexual content and language. Running time: 84 minutes. One star (out of four).

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