by Greg Muskewitz
The body count keeps rolling in. Regardless of how much "Tomcats" is fashioned after offal, it's innuendo-suggesting tagline seems to fit best along with "Snatch" (...opens wide in...). For non-perverts, the tagline which reads "The last man standing gets the kitty," outside of some feline reference with the title, it is incoherent. But as I was informed by a pervert, "kitty" was just ersatz for the un-PC "pussy," which meant that this was to be a chase to the panties. Not so, but that doesn't mean it is much better.A sophomore comedy (elementary, really), "Tomcats" tries to replicate everything outrageous and hilarious that we have seen in movies for the last half-decade, and manages not to succeed one bit. Beginning with a 7-year-ago flashback, we witness a group of immature guys make a bet to see who can stay a bachelor longest, and whoever does will win the pot of money they plan to invest. A sub-bet is made between Michael (Jerry O'Connell), a cartoonist (seemingly a little hot on the heels of Brendan Fraser's cartoonist in "Monkeybone," but explaining the cat reference) and Kyle (Jake Busey) to "nail" all the women in the world. So flash-forward to the present, and the two are the only left single and screwing. The pot o' money has worked its way up to $425,000 or some other ridiculous figure.
"And they don't mean pussy."
Michael blows more money than he has in Vegas during a friend's wedding, and has a run-in with the "the quasi-criminal, take-no-shit, Vegas-type guy" casino handler (Bill Maher). He's got a month to get the $50,000+ owed money, while repossession has begun. Michael hatches the plan to find Natalie (Shannon Elizabeth), the one girl Kyle says he could have loved, to try and get them together for marriage in order to win the money and pay off the casino in Vegas. She turns out to be a cop (posing as a hooker, and busting Michael for rambling on and misinterpreting his babble for sexual fantasy with hamsters) and likes his idea, because she wants revenge for the apparent one-night stand. But then there's the obligatory romance that buds between Michael and Natalie, but neither tells each other, and while trying to get each other's attention, ends up discouraging the other. The scandal begins to work when they are re-introduced (I'm Kyle. (She stares at him without recognition.) I popped your cherry."), and the very obvious and the very unfunny follows, drags, leaks behind.
"Tomcats" is the kind of movie where a character gets cancer on one of his testicles, has it amputated, wants it for a souvenir, and when he can't get it, sends his friend for it. Naturally, the testicle has to "escape" from the jar, and it becomes a chase as it bounces down the halls, down the stairs, onto food, and the actually witnessing of a doctor biting into it. I had to force myself to actually watch that, and it wasn't in the slightest bit funny. It was completely disgusting. It was completely inane. It is worthless for me to go into detail for the rest of the stuff they pull here, apparently thinking it is funny, but it isn't. It's just embarrassing and makes me question why anyone would have wanted to do this.
There is such a thing as gross-funny; the early works of the Farrelly Brothers proved it, the Wayans Brothers did it very well with "Scary Movie" --there are any number of movies that can do it, given that it seems they put some effort into being clever with it. All that writer/director Gregory Poirier assumes that he has to do to be clever and creative is make a couple of scenes mocking the cliffhanging stunts of "Mission: Impossible II," and the flower petals from "American Beauty." Instead, Poirier comes off like the cheapest of imitations. As far as the plot is concerned, in a movie of this stature, are we actually to believe that Michael, Mr. Anti-Settling down, is in the end going to choose her over the money? Yeah right! I don't understand how something like this could get passed the producers. It is understandable that movies that this tries to imitate make a lot of money among the teen populous, but teens are able --to a point-- to discriminate what is and isn't all that funny. After all, I am only 19 and I am not all that far removed to know what appeals to people my age. The fact that this is made to look like a sex-romp with the extremely attractive Shannon Elizabeth, should bring a sizable attention to it, but it delivers very little of either. The is no sex (but plenty of innuendo) or nudity, unless you count a prosthetic breast, Jake Busey's butt (as he's wearing a thong), Jerry O'Connell's scarlet letter-spanked butt, and maybe a stripper in the background's breasts, that's it. Which is pretty surprising considering that Elizabeth, who vowed no more sex roles, then appeared in several direct-to-video ones, and posed nude for about five current magazines, does nothing of the sort here. Like "Valentine," this could have a decent opening weekend, but it is my supposition that it will be squashed shortly after. And as far as younger audiences go, I asked my 16-year-old sister what the word is about it on campus, and the answer was next to nil!
Elizabeth, for the considerably small amount of time she is on-screen, has the cutesy, perky personality better than I would have liked to give her the credit for, and she has an adorable and sincere grin. Regardless of the lack of nudity or sex she engages in, the movie still treats her as a sexual objectification. O'Connell has now reassured me that he has no talent. As I look back on his career, there is hardly a trace of talent. The only role that comes to mind that I liked him in was "Joe's Apartment," and that did nothing to showcase his "talent." In everything else --"Body Shots," "Jerry Maguire," "Scream 2," etc., he plays a moronic jock-type that is not all that uncommon to come by. And he still does the moron in "Joe's Apartment." The more I think about it, the more he is following in the footsteps of Brendan Fraser, and I don't find that hard to envision.
Not that Poirier had any points from his inconclusive script with "Gossip," the "married man with two kids," as the press kit happily informs me, is still nothing but a juvenile, and his sense of humor surely is no palatable in the slightest degree. The only scene that I can admit to smirking at and enjoying the design of, was the dominatrix/librarian scene. Even that took it too far, but the elaboration of the bedroom into a masochistic dungeon, and the transmogrification of the mousy librarian into a steel-tongued dominatrix, was amusing, but only in the most puerile. This is not a positive start for the new studio Revolution Studios, and if their upcoming project "The New Guy" is anything like this (which I tend to believe), it will be quite disappointing. After Eliza Dushku seemed to stay untouched and uninterested by the sophomore/teen flicks, and the whole teen-slasher movement (which was a delight to know), it seems as if she's catching up with "The New Guy" and the upcoming "Soul Survivors." How very inimical.Final Verdict: F.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4940&reviewer=172
originally posted: 03/30/01 18:37:07