The Sweetest Thing

Apr 17, 2002 at 12:00 am

It begins with a string of wounded men, left dangling and mangled by Christina Walters, a girl who gets anything she wants, with the sun in her smile, music in her walk and a rock-hard heart. The Sweetest Thing, directed by Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions), is a romantic comedy where romance is just an excuse for a string of very funny shtick. It features the dazzling Cameron Diaz as Christina (whose credo is “Don’t go looking for Mr. Right; look for Mr. Right Now”) and Christina Applegate as her best friend, Courtney. Together, they misuse their powers of cuteness and likability, ravaging the nightclub scene and abusing boys.

Christina and Courtney dance with each other and snicker knowingly as inferior male specimens execute their pathetic mating ritual — and all is fine, until Christina grabs the wrong ass. Peter (Thomas Jane), with his regular-guy good looks and upstanding attitude, isn’t the club’s typically vacant fare. In a few words, he manages to ruin her superficial fun-facade, challenging her way of life and state of mind.

Diaz and Applegate have an amazing rapport. You don’t doubt for a second that they’re best friends as they bounce quick inside quips back and forth like virtuoso Ping-Pong comedians. All those years on “Married with Children” have obviously paid off, because Applegate’s deadpan, dead-on delivery rides the film like a custom-made saddle that she straddles, comfortably droll and pretty.

Also involved is the downcast beauty of Southfield’s own Selma Blair as Christina’s roommate, Jane, drowning her relationship malfunction in ice cream and dumb, beautiful men. Jane is the butt of the raunchiest jokes, like the cum-covered-dress-dry cleaning-scene that’s absurd, somewhat predictable, but still pretty damn funny. You can see how writing for “South Park” influenced Nancy M. Pimental’s approach to a script that has absolutely no problem about going too far, all the way to the other end of the “ludicrous” rainbow.

Aside from a couple spots that forget to float (like the unfortunate “movie-dress-up” sequence), The Sweetest Thing is a lot of laughs, poking fun at both men and women, with a split-your-gut dream sequence (girls, you gotta see this one) and a lingering moral that’s sweet but calorie-less: Always get your pie a la mode.

Anita Schmaltz writes about the arts for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].