Girls Will Be Girls
Directed by Richard Day. Starring Jack Plotnick, Clinton Leupp, Jeffrey Roberson, Ron Mathews, Hamilton von Watts, Dana Gould. (2003, NR, 79 min.)
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Nov. 14, 2003
This all-male, semimusical romp invites no end of comparisons. It’s Pink Flamingos meets Down With Love! It’s Valley of the Dolls meets Female Trouble! It’s part camp, part trash, and part cabaret, with a delightfully retro Hollywood Hills palette and zingy dialogue served up with relish. ("God, I hoped you’d be a lifeless kisser," a character opines breathlessly after a gauzy falling-in-love fantasy sequence.) While aged starlet Evie (Plotnick, who’s a bitchy gas in his Sandy Duncan wig and sequined hostesswear) schemes against Arkansas ingenue Varla (Roberson), their third roommate, Coco (Leupp, as a horsy Paula Prentiss-type "good girl") longs for marriage to the doctor (Gould) who performed her abortions all those years ago. Will Evie make her big comeback in a late-night "specialmercial"? Will Varla escape her smelly Europimp (Watts) and hit it big as the spokesmodel for Bizzy Gal packaged meals? Will any of Coco’s myriad dogs (animal actors Sammy, Chester, and Roscoe) survive? The production values can be a tad raw at times, and I’m not wild about the cutesy intertitles, which slow the action and overstate matters (which is no small task in such a broad comedy, if you’ll pardon the pun), but this IFC-sponsored effort (featured prominently at this year’s aGLIFF) is delightful, wicked fun from start to finish. I mention not as criticism but as point of fact that nothing is sacred here – not clown sex, not tiny-dick jokes, not bulimia, not glass eyes, not fetus gags – so be warned. That said, the showbiz satire is sharper than an acrylic fingernail, and the musical numbers are as hilarious in concept and execution as anything from the Christopher Guest oeuvre. (Leupp’s tuneless warbling of the love paean "Dream Lover" springs to mind.) Some reviewers have knocked the film for its ostensible misogyny, a charge which suggests that drag acts are a de facto statement about womanhood – whenever a man puts on the trappings of femininity, he is making a pronouncement about what women do and are. Despite the title, the Girls here are more like a third gender, existing in a world apart from academic speculation – a world of dead poodles and Darvon, where rooms are decorated with a Bicentennial theme and a poolside shooting is a party foul. This is not to say that camp should be immune from feminist scrutiny; it just doesn’t care about it, so I’m unwilling to apply those criteria here. Mean-spirited though she may be, Evie is just too much fun to resist. Viewers who love trash will think they’ve died and gone to polyester heaven. They have.