Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Thomas Jane. They, and the chemistry between them, are the only sweet things about “The Sweetest Thing,” a sour attempt at making a Farrelly Brothers-style, down-and-dirty laugher for the female set.
There are isolated moments of humor in “The Sweetest Thing,” but like the actors they are all in desperate search for a story — or, rather, an actual movie. Writer Nancy Pimental has earned a lot of hype and press for her million-dollar-selling script, and this film makes one question every single one of those facts. The sliver of a story follows the love-’em-and-leave-’em Christina Walters (Diaz) and her best friend Courtney (Applegate) as they travel to crash the wedding of the brother of Paul Donahue (Jane), a guy whom Christina met once at a club. That’s it. But even as an excuse on which to hang a number of risqué gags — a number of which involve Christina and Courtney’s seemingly more demure pal Jane (Selma Blair) and either cocks, cum, or both–it’s still remarkably thin. At a lean 84 minutes, the film feels incredibly padded out, and director Roger Kumble (the man responsible for the trashy guilty pleasure that was “Cruel Intentions”) strangely makes no bones about it; at one point, Christina and Courtney ask each other, “Do we have time for a movie montage?” before launching into a superficially amusing but highly hokey modeling scene that parodies a few popular films.
What makes the lack of inspiration all the more disappointing is the appeal of the three principals. Diaz is luminous, but she — like everyone else — doesn’t have much of a character to work with, and Christina’s arc is sketchy at best. She and Jane strike believable sparks in Christina and Paul’s big meeting scene, and they do a deft job of delivering Pimental’s few witty passages of repartée, but they only share two scenes, total, in the entire film. Diaz spends most of the film with Applegate, and they have an unforced, cutesy girly-girl best friend rapport, but one wishes Kumble and Pimental gave them more to do than dance in undergarments and make faces at each other and the audience, often while delivering lame dialogue such as (in reaction to seeing Jane’s boyfriend nude) “Oh my c**k!” But at least they’re given something to do, which is a lot more than can be said for an insultingly wasted Parker Posey as a nervous bride.
Every now and again a genuinely fun gag slips through the cracks, such as a most unlikely communal sing of ærosmith’s drippy, Oscar-nominated “Armageddon” love theme, “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” But jokes like those — that is, ones that are funny and a bit spontaneous and surprising — are just one of many things in incredibly short supply in “The Sweetest Thing,” and for a film that’s supposed to be an outrageous comedy, that has to be the most crippling deficiency.