The Sweetest Thing (by Maris Kreizman)
Today’s 10YOM is guest-written by Maris Kreizman. She’s a writer and creator of the brilliant Slaughterhouse 90210, which you should read as soon as you finish this.
Year 2002 Trademarks:
- Discussion of how fat-free chips cause anal leakage
- Charlie’s Angels hair
“Your penis packs a wallop, your penis brings a load. And when it makes a delivery, it needs its own zip code.” Forgive me if the first time I saw The Sweetest Thing I didn’t recognize it to be a sly subversion of male fantasies, a ballsy feminist statement in an age of raunch. Maybe that’s because The Sweetest Thing is a terrible movie. It really is. It is sloppy and random and rarely witty. Its brand of humor is the broadest of broad, with sight gags galore and almost no plot to speak of. There are puke jokes and fake tit jokes and cum stain jokes and post-Indian food shitting jokes, and there is a crotchety old grandpa wearing a “Who farted?” T shirt. And yet.
There was something perversely charming about the movie when I saw it in 2002, probably because it pulled off a nice little bait and switch: starring Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair, on the surface level The Sweetest Thing seemed like it would be just another generic chick flick about a bunch of single gals looking for love. But then you start watching and something goes down that’s so utterly absurd, so egregiously disgusting, that you realize there’s little that’s formulaic about it. Four years after Cameron Diaz’s breakout title role as a non-threatening dream girl surrounded by a bunch of wacky, hormonally-charged men, here she is in a movie that’s a hundred times grosser than There’s Something About Mary. And this time around she and her lady friends are the ones who get to be nasty. Picture Mary rhapsodizing on the odor of her poonani, or fantasizing about eating an enormous bowl of calorie-free ice cream while Mr. Right goes down on her, and you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about. The Farrelly brothers’ dream girl has dreams of her own, after all.
Ostensibly, The Sweetest Thing is about what happens when a smoking hot party girl named Christina (Diaz, duh) who’s left a trail of broken hearts in her wake, meets-cute the man of her dreams (Thomas Jane, in a role almost entirely devoid of personality) for a few minutes in a nightclub and then spends the rest of the movie trying to track him down. More importantly, it’s the story of three women whose friendship is more passionate and multi-layered than any feebly constructed romantic relationship (it’s apparently based on screenwriter Nancy Pimental’s friendship with Kate Walsh of Grey’s Anatomy fame). These women have their own language (the adjective “bejiggedy” means “bent out of shape”), their own songs (more on that in a sec), and scores of inside jokes and banter—most of which is absolutely filthy, and gleefully so. Say what you will about the quality of the conversation, these women—the characters and the actresses—are clearly having fun.
If you’ve only seen the edited version of the movie on TBS or TNT on some hungover Sunday, please, do yourself a favor: find a copy of the unrated version, because it features a full-fledged production number that startled the shit out of me a decade ago. It starts out at a Chinese restaurant, where Christina and her BFF Courtney (Christina Applegate, in a role that would make Kelly Bundy blush), are quizzing Jane (Selma Blair, doing that prudish thing she does so well) about her new boyfriend. They remind Jane that a new lover must be flattered, and the best way to, uh, stroke a male ego is to hyperbolize about one particular body part. Cue “The Penis Song,” (co-written by the three lead actresses) which begins with the ladies moaning, “You’re too big to fit in here”, as they motion to various orifices. Then a beat gets dropped, a synthesizer appears, and chop sticks become drum sticks as the entire restaurant partakes in a penis-themed song-and-dance number that involves a conga line, the Electric Slide, and some rapping. Basically, it’s like the most inappropriate bar mitzvah reception ever. And this WTF group number is echoed later on, when Jane gets her tonsil stuck on said boyfriend’s dick piercing, and Christina and Courtney come to her rescue. They decide that singing is the only way to relax Jane’s throat enough to free her, so, obvs, they choose to perform “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” AKA “That Aerosmith song from Armageddon” and an entire roomful of people—including the cops, some EMTs and a few leather daddies—happily join in. This is what true friends do.
I mention these super random scenes because, ten years later, they make that shitting-in-a-sink scene from Bridesmaids almost look tame. My fingers are crossed that Bridesmaids will get some Oscar love, and I’m counting the days until Bachelorette comes out. I love all the think pieces about female-oriented comedies these films have generated, and lord knows I’m looking forward to a time when the idea that “women can be funny/gross” isn’t a revelation. From this vantage point, it’s hard not to see The Sweetest Thing as a part of this spectrum: a film that may not be particularly well-written, or acted (Diaz appears to emote more with a wiggle of her tiny tush than with her face), but is still really enjoyable and maybe even progressive. Here’s hoping that more nuanced, thoughtful films—that happen to be hysterical—are directed, produced, written and acted by women in years to come. Till then, well, we’ll always have this.