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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 3.7%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad37.04%
Total Crap37.04%

3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Woman on Top
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Total food poisoning. Stale and rotten."
1 stars

Although it's possible, movies can't get much stupider than Woman on Top. I suppose with the addition of this we may as well add a sub-genre of food-orientated movies. There's plenty that could be included (everything from The Last Supper to Big Night to Eat Drink Man Woman), but I feel as if it's off on the wrong foot. I can't think of anything I personally have done to face such travail, but Woman on Top is like stale or rotten food -it's just nauseating.

Isabella (Penelope Cruz) was cursed by a sea-god with the attractive quality of motion sickness. She can't ride in cars, elevators, planes, boats, et al, without becoming sick. Even during sex, unless she's on top (hence the title), there's no chance; she can't be ridden. But to make up for it, she was blessed with the amazing ability to cook with passion. ("Love at first bite.") She's vehemently in love with Toninho (Murilo Benício), and immediately the two are married. He owns a restaurant, and she's the chef who gives it the popularity. After awhile she gets tired of being cast in the shadows while Toninho takes the credits, her mind to leave Brazil for the U.S. is made when she catches him procreating with another woman (he just had to be on top).

Isabella looks up a friend to stay with, a large, black drag queen named Monica (Harold Perrineau, Jr.). To rid of her depression, Isabella cooks up a storm, and through CGI smoke, a whiff of it is all you need before you're following her around like all the would-be brides were in The Bachelor.

One person who gets a whiff is Cliff Lloyd (Mark Feuerstein), a TV-exec. In search of a new program, he recruits Isabella to do a cooking show (Passion Food Live). Toninho comes back unable to shed his inamorata towards Isabella and hunts her down across the world. The show catches on all over San Francisco, but when it goes nationally, things really start to get out of hand (Monica is ditched because "they can't sell drag in Albuquerque") and Isabella is no longer enjoying herself.

Possibly in written form this sounded charming and romantic -but on the screen, it isn't in the slightest. Maybe it's something about movies where the characters have the magic ability to cook, and through that they put out a scent like a bitch in heat, and have every guy in the world fawning over them. Woman on Top is a total rip-off of Like Water for Chocolate, Simply Irresistible and Love Potion # 9 but with a salsa beat. Those aren't exactly movies worth regurgitating. The only thing that prevents this from being worse than Simply Irresistible (which I thought was last year's worst movie) is that it didn't have a magical crab! For crying out loud, they don't even flaunt the food like they at least had the decency to do in the aforementioned movies.

I have nothing against movies dealing with food. Ang Lee's Eat Drink was a perfect example of how to incorporate it with a story. Even though I couldn't stand The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, even director Greenaway had the sense to exhibit the food. All we get here is a spicy pepper.

The production values were shoddy (constant gaffes and a consistency with the microphone dropping into the frame). There were cheesy visual effects with the scented food and an underwater sequence. The writing by Vera Blasi was corny, idiotic and amateurish. Woman on Top lacked all signs of structure and development.

Director/hackett Fina Torres has no sense of direction. She employs and overuses all gags and items which might have served to lighten the atmosphere. For example, at first Monica was a funny character, but the overuse and tiring antics wore flat very fast. (No matter the size of the penis joke, unlike it, the humor doesn't stretch that far.) There was no acting ability, no writing or directing ability -it's like this is kareoke moviemaking.

The only dish shown off here is Spanish sensation Cruz. She's very cute and I admit I liked her in Todo Sobre Mi Madre and The Hi-Lo Country. Here she's a show-off tool instead of an actress. They use her like a piece of food, and although we're tempted by her sexuality, Torres always cuts out at the last minute making it all a tease. There was a scent emanated from Woman on Top, a pungent stink that says it's all rotten fat -as in fatuous!

Final Verdict: F.

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originally posted: 09/20/00 08:26:07
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User Comments

1/13/11 Dane Youssef The strong and intriguing cast and promising concept are hampered by an awful screenplay. 2 stars
7/31/03 omar "surfur" youssef The strong and intriguing cast and promising concept are hampered by an awful screenplay. 2 stars
6/17/03 Erin nope 1 stars
10/28/00 Haim i just smiled during the whole movie 4 stars
10/04/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble The only woman on top is the bitch who greenlighted this film. 1 stars
9/28/00 bartv A $2.00 rental/Cute for 1965/Today-tres trite. Best bit is Monica -- a hot chile! 2 stars
9/25/00 siro now, now -- let's not be TOO harsh...penelope cruz doesn't want to hurt anybody... 2 stars
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  22-Sep-2000 (R)


  01-Feb-2001 (M)

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