Film Reviews

Chewing the Fat

Amanda Peet has some really large teeth. Seriously. Even given the fact that it's in vogue for hot, young would-be sex symbols to parade their brightly polished choppers for all to see (think Neve Campbell, Casper Van Dien or Denise Richards), Amanda's impressive ivories outshine every other set of incisors in Hollywood. In Whipped, they're not even whiter than white, and yet they remain in the memory long after most everything else about the film has swiftly vaporized. Does the fact that she plays the ultimate object of desire therefore strike a blow for the dentally enhanced? Or could the movie's poster, in which she's pouting so as not to open her mouth, be considered deceptive?

It's your call. But don't let the R rating fool you into thinking any of her other body parts will be prominently displayed. Most of first-time writer-director-producer Peter M. Cohen's film is in the time-honored "I worship Kevin Smith" mode: Guys sit around sharing raunchy sex talk (as Cohen undoubtedly hopes against hope that some of his sleazy metaphors will become popular catchphrases), occasionally pausing to compare themselves to movie characters. There's Zeke (Zorie Barber), the vaguely geeky Jewish screenwriter who compares himself to Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks, when the nerdy guy on Sports Night would be more apt; Brad (Brian Van Holt), the boring suit who thinks he's Tom Cruise in Risky Business, though he's more reminiscent of the typical womanizing best friend seen on almost every contemporary sitcom; and Jonathan (Jonathan Abrahams), the goatee-wearing nice guy who is often mistaken for gay, and thus compares himself to Andrew McCarthy in St. Elmo's Fire. (You'll be thinking more along the lines of Ben Stiller in virtually every Ben Stiller movie).

All three meet repeatedly in a diner to discuss their fortunes with the ladies: Brad has a scam going in which he always pretends to be the brother of his target's friend "Jen," because every woman has a friend by that name; Zeke passively allows women to rob him of his TV sets in exchange for sex; Jonathan mostly stays home and masturbates, for which he (naturally) has a number of colorful euphemisms. And if your sides aren't splitting yet, there's a fourth guy -- Eric (Judah Domke), the married friend -- who would quite willingly detail the kinky things he and his wife get up to, if anyone cared to listen.

It's a comfortable routine for everyone involved, until each of the three single men meets the woman of his dreams, who happens to be the same woman. This is Mia (Peet), and she further complicates matters by refusing to choose among them. Male egos being what they are, each man is convinced he's the only one for this beauty (or should that be "booty"?), and so battle ensues. The players find themselves being played.

What do we learn from all this? Men are arrogant swine, and can be easily manipulated with the promise of sex. Nothing new there. However, we also learn that women are often manipulative sluts who are perfectly willing to give it up just to teach guys a lesson, and happy to watch them suffer for personal amusement, even to a degree above and beyond what they may deserve. Oh, and men love huge teeth.

Is this really a step in the right direction? Or is it expecting too much from a light comedy to make any insightful points about relationships? There certainly are funny moments, notably a scene involving Jonathan, a vibrator and the song "Karma Chameleon." But for every good background music choice, there's a hackneyed number like Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love."

Whipped's biggest strength is that it accurately captures the way most dumb white heterosexual males casually talk about sex: in crude, conquest-type lingo, like saying "stabbin' cabin" for bachelor pad. The question is whether one wants (or needs) to pay the price of a movie ticket for this sort of thing, and that's not a moral statement, but a practical one: Hang out at a frat house or sports bar, and you can hear this talk for free.