The Internet Movie Database, a Bible for movie lovers, tells us that “The Sweetest Thing” director Roger Kumble received a “thanks” credit on the Farrelly Brothers’ groundbreaking gross-out comedy “There’s Something About Mary.” Had I known that, I would have been less surprised by the falsely marketed film’s numerous trips into the toilet for its humor.
Maybe its because I was half expecting “Thing” to be that long-awaited Cameron Diaz vehicle that would propel her to a Julia level, or a Sandra plateau. After years of sharing the screen with the girls of “Charlie’s Angels” or Ms. Roberts herself (“My Best Friend’s Wedding”), Diaz appeared ready for the breakout. And that’s why I found myself so disappointed in this “Thing” on screen, as glory hole gags and oral sex jokes piled up faster than NASCAR racers on the second turn at Bristol.“Thing” could be described as screenwriter Nancy Pimental’s vulgar answer to “Swingers.” In a welcome twist, the film places its high-heeled shoe on the other foot, and casts strong, confident female leads in the role of wolves hunting unsuspecting sheep … uh, men.The leader of the pack is Christina (Cameron Diaz), a female “playah” with relationship issues who’s fiercely loyal to her best friends, Courtney (Christina Applegate) and Jane (Selma Blair). On the dance floor of a pulsating nightclub, Christina encounters the one man who seems impervious to her domineering ways (Thomas Jane), and his resistance to her alluring charms only spurs her on. With Courtney’s help, Christina plans to infiltrate a wedding she knows her mystery man is attending, so she can determine whether this guy’s “Mr. Right,” or “Mr. Right Now.”Pimental, best known for her hosting gig on Comedy Central’s “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” delivers a script that’s initially rife with girl talk and feminine charms. While largely giving women the upper hand, it also assumes (perhaps correctly) that women can be slobs, often swear like sailors, and dream of receiving oral pleasure while they gorge themselves on ice cream. It also strips its stars down to practically nothing for huge chunks of time and has them touch each other frequently. Remember, Feminists, one of your own kind wrote this one, so put those placards of protest away.Diaz and Applegate actually display a likeable chemistry on their road trip. The former literally bounces through scenes as if she were filled with helium, while the latter reminds us why she was a crucial element on a long-running sitcom. Selma Blair, playing the duo’s third wheel of a best friend, doesn’t get off so easily. While Diaz and Applegate take turns sharing the glamorous spotlight, Blair shags an imbecile in a mascots outfit and sings her way out of an oral dilemma. Girl, fire your agent. Immediately.Farrelly Brothers humor aimed squarely at the target teen demographic completely derails this train before long. You’ll laugh into your sleeve at its strongest material, feeling guilty the entire time. But thanks to its reliance on bodily fluid and immature, insulting sex jokes, “Thing” quickly becomes the most perverted, obnoxious and derogatory “guy flick” written by a girl I’ve ever seen.“Sweetest Thing” runs a scant 84 minutes yet still needs a movie-montage sequence, which is funny but still filler. Its abbreviated length just might be the sweetest thing of all.Grade: D+ THE EXTRASTwo versions of the film are available on DVD, an a rated and an unrated, though Columbia decided to send me the rated version and spare me what equals 3 minutes of additional footage. Remind me to thank them next time I have the chance.Instead, I plowed through two “”Making Of”” featurettes. The first, entitled “”Politically Erect,”” goes on to explain that while making “”Thing”” was anything but politically correct, it was a G-String full of dirty ole fun. Good for them! The dreadful “”Day in the Life of Nancy M. Pimental”” attempts to spoof the daily routines of a Hollywood writer. Honey, your movie wasn’t funny, and neither is this extended skit.The DVD does contain a screen-specific audio commentary with Kumble, Diaz and Applegate that’s breathlessly vapid, but light as the helium Cameron inhales. I kid you not.Grade: C-By Sean O’ConnellSept. 1, 2002