|Andrew Lindemann Malone's Internet Playpen|
"Whipped"'s publicist, and its first-time writer/director/producer Peter M. Cohen, both labor under the illusion that "Whipped" is a "provocative comedy in which the highs and lows of the dating game are fully exposed." In reality, "Whipped" is one of those painfully parochial New York films whose creator, while straining to be hipper than all of thou, seems to fervently believe that everyone else in the country leads lives as meaningless as the New Yorkers he knows do. Cohen brings us a few funny lines, but artificial dialogue, lazy character development, an idiotic retread plot, and the general stupidity of all the characters in the film make "Whipped" a treat only for cineasts of a masochistic bent. The best thing you can say about "Whipped" is that, at eighty-four minutes, it's over quickly.
Our central conceit: Three college buddies, Brad, Jonathan and Zeke, get together in a diner every Sunday morning (apparently hangover-free, even with all the partying they claim to have done) and discuss the various sexual conquests each has made during the previous week. Cohen presumably intends these discussions to be "provocative," with their profanity and dismissive attitudes towards women. In reality, though, the discussions sound completely unreal, as they partake of forced-sounding profanity, stilted, unrealistic euphemisms for sex like "doin' the bone dance" and "tacklin' some clam," and overenunciated African-American slang like "that wack ho Mia" which induces unintentional laughs coming from these very white actors.
These discussions are also unrealistic in that it is hard to imagine any woman in her right mind copulating with one of these guys. Each merely represents a New York stereotype: Brad the Wall Street lawyer (that's two with one character--what efficiency), Zeke the East Village boho, and Jonathan the vaguely gay (says the film), sensitive guy. Common to them all are their complete superficiality (do any of these people have any real interests outside of sex?) and their towering egos, which obscure their obvious complete insecurity about women and, along with apparently-gullible New York women, allow them to nurture their Casanova fantasies. (Jonathan simply lacks the ego.) The group's stupid little discussions about sexual misadventures, needless to say, quickly become tiresome. Unfortunately, these discussions take up at least half of the film.
The other half? Back to "that wack ho Mia," played by Amanda Peet. Mia somehow inspires fantasies of settling down in each of these men by paying superficial attention to their "interests." Besides sex, these guys' interests are so vaguely delineated as to defy accurate description, besides Jonathan's love of masturbation, which of course is given much more space and detail than it ever needed. Brad seems happy that she's "interested in [his] work," but he doesn't seem particularly interested in it, apart from the sizable paychecks it gives him. Cohen presents no obvious redeeming characteristics in the men for Peet to bring out, and simply telling the audience that there are some (as Cohen does) is no substitute. Nonetheless, the guys seem convinced that they have redeeming qualities, and compete to get Mia to bring out these illusory qualities exclusively for them.
Unfortunately, Cohen doesn't present anything particularly likable about Mia, besides her much-harped-upon looks and occasional vaporous interest in interests which are already pretty vaporous. If these men are supposed to be fighting over her even as she blatantly plays them for fools like Rostropovich playing the cello, then, for God's sake, why? All we have here are a trio of zeros lurching clumsily around, looking to add another zero to their lives in the futile hope that, by doing this, they will add up to something. (The actors should not be stigmatized for the lousy characterization in this film, as they had nothing at all to work with, and they should all get to try to make better films.)
It's not even as if our plot is fresh, shiny and new, as both the general idea of woman-playing men getting played and the action of male combat over the desirable female have been used in countless other, better films. (A running subplot about the castration value of marriage, amazingly, manages to be even more useless and unrealistic than the rest of the film.) There are some Farrelly Brothers-style gags which make one wish the Farrelly Brothers actually wrote and directed this thing, and a few quite amusing lines manage to slip through here and there. But ultimately, you'll only enjoy this film if you want to see a bunch of one-dimensional characters have a meaningless pissing match in their sad little pond. Everyone else should stay the hell away from "Whipped," even under pain of the lash.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Spam-O-Matic, you know it is going to be an ass day at the cinema when the DC101 publicity person says, "Normally, they give us cool stuff to give out at previews, but they gave us tube tops. I have twenty tube tops. Everyone who wants one, line up here at the front." They also gave out charming stickers; I took five or so of the ones which have the word "Whipped" printed across an abstract representation of what appears to be some chick's rack. If anyone wants one of these, e-mail me and we'll see what we can do to get them the hell out of my apartment. After all, I took them for your benefit (feel the love). I thought the movie was going to be better, too, but we'll expunge that from our memory as soon as we paste this review into this window.
I got rid of all of those, so don't worry about trying to take "Whipped" memorabilia off my hands. Not that you were.
All this tasty writing ©2002-11 by Andrew Lindemann Malone. All rights reserved.