By Merle Bertrand | November 21, 2002

Taylor (Lala Stoatman) is the editor of Biotch, a so-called “post-feminist” zine she publishes with her three house mates that has a $20,000 loan due and a cash flow problem. Her friend Jennifer (Annabelle Gurwitch) is a post-graduate student at Tallahassee State University who’s desperate for a thesis project to complete her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies. Necessity being the sorority sister of all invention, Jennifer concocts a scheme. If the Biotch staff — Taylor, Kate (Kate Norby), JJ (Jenny Judelle), and Alex (Klea Scott) — can swear off all contact with men for 100 days for the purposes of the study, Jennifer will win a $25,000 grant that she’ll then donate to Taylor to help save their magazine.
No contact means no sex, no touching and no flirting, which complicates things considerably when Taylor meets hunky photographer Mica (Jeremy Sisto) and they develop a mutual, if unspoken, crush. Things become even more complicated when Taylor starts publishing a diary of their manfast in the zine, generating a growing ground swell of publicity for the fasting females. When Kate’s father, one of the magazine’s investors, reads about their challenge, he knows a good publicity gimmick when sees one, offering up a $1 million reward to the first guy who can get one of the women to crack. Chaos and depravity ensues, as h***y men descend on the Florida campus like lawyers in the last presidential election.
There’s a certain, intangible hokeyness surrounding “Manfast,” caused at least in part by the fact that the rules on what constitutes “contact” seem to shift around for convenience. Director Tara Judelle’s post-feminist screwball comedy does have a few laughs and some bits of satire scattered around like the perfunctory articles in an issue of Playboy. There’s also a nice, if predictable smoldering romantic chemistry between Sisto’s Mica and Sloatman’s Taylor, but overall Judelle’s film just never seems quite real. “Manfast” may take place on a college campus, but the film merely feels like an over the top filmed version of a high school play.

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