Friday, November 13, 2009

Women In Trouble Review

If you were to mix the daily life mishaps of two porn stars, a prostitute, two sisters who share a daughter, their shrink with an adulterous husband, and a stewardess, you would probably find it impossible not to laugh. That is, at least, what writer/director/producer Sebastian Gutierrez (Snakes On A Plane) hopes. With a fairly impressive cast and a strong emphasis on female leads, the pseudo-feminist ideals still feel as they were delivered from a male perspective. Obviously, getting the actresses down to their underwear in a good portion of the scenes drives that bit home.

Starting off with the exploits of a porn actress (Carla Gugino) who finds out that she is pregnant, the narrative weaves in and out of the lives of what seems like a dozen women that are all somehow connected. Playing like a European comedy with some Tarantino-esque sensibilities, nothing that troubles these women is left to the imagination. They babble on about their issues and problems from the moment they feel secure with someone, trusting each other as long as they have either a common enemy out there or some larger issue to squash. Some people are like this, sure, but when everyone in the same film acts this way I can't help but feel it is just an excuse for them to deliver some "witty" banter and terrifying life history.

Unfortunately, the banter isn't quite so witty. Sure, I was filled in a room rife with stuck up film critics, too old to be featured even on the packaging of "Just For Men" hair dye, but even then the silence was tell-tale. I laughed a handful of times, and those times were short. A woman trying to fight a dead man's erection, maybe one of the billion dumb blonde jokes, and the surprisingly excellent faux-hispanic accent by Joseph Gordon-Levitt were my big laughs. Jokes about a canine performing cunnilingus, and actually the many jokes that revolve around the act, not just with dogs, fail big time.

I thought of many different directors and writers while I watched the film, as the dialogue treaded some of the same ground as a Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, or a filthier Joss Whedon. The one trait that it couldn't borrow from any of those guys was the overall capacity to make people laugh. Word choices, timing, and delivery were all off. Some of the joke concepts were there, they just weren't up to snuff. The other issue I had was the humanization of everyone. Sure, they were all human beings, but some characters are presented as less favorable than others, almost as antagonists. At some point in the film each of them will become vilified,  making you root for no one to succeed or get by. It isn't like there are cops and robbers running around this thing, but when a husband cheats on his wife you want to hate him, not feel good about him doing "the right thing" by staying with her to make her feel better. Screw that.

Overall, if Gutierrez gets the trilogy out of this that he wanted, which I doubt, I probably won't be on those ticket lines. Then again, I doubt anyone else will. Had this been an off-Broadway play, with some stronger direction, and punchier lines, it could be knocking it out of the park. As a film, however, it leaves a lot to be desired and little to laugh with.

Movie Grade: C-
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