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By Sommer Browning | September 14, 2004

Part Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and part G-Rated John Waters, this is a shiny happy musical about Gretchen Brettschneider’s fear of turning thirty. Gretchen (Annie Oelschlager) is a 29-year-old perky party-planner who’s life so far has been as smooth as fresh plastic, until she realizes she’s about to turn thirty. Gretchen knows in her heart that turning thirty means exile to Boredomsville, so she does everything humanly possible to avoid it. As she endeavors to skirt the dreaded age, she turns to science and the government for answers, she’s chased by a huge, orange foam thirty, and accompanied by an insane trio of musical friends (Emily Berry, Corey Blake, and Dustin Strong).
From Gretchen’s over-the-top light-up birthday cake to her fluffy pig slippers (certainly a bow to Pee-Wee), this film exudes cuteness the way a jelly donut exudes its jelly, when squeezed, mind you. The blindingly bright production design and costumes skyrocket the film’s camp factor. Of course, the dance numbers, cheeseball pop songs, extraordinarily wide smiling, and open-mouthed acting have a lot to do with it. Oelschlager is fun as the wonderfully ADD-afflicted Gretchen and Berry, Blake, and Strong couldn’t be better animatronic, amphetamine-addicted cohorts. “Gretchen Brettschneider Skirts Thirty” is embarrassingly enjoyable, fast-paced, and my cones and rods (read: eyeballs) are still reeling from the stimulus. For a person who eats cake strictly for the icing, it satisfies.

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