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1 item from 2006

Phat Girlz

10 April 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Opened Friday, April 7

In "Phat Girlz", a comedy about plus-size women, the first word of the movie's title stands for Pretty Hot and Thick. The second word is never spelled out, but it could mean Good Intentions Ruined by Lousy Zingers. Because it's not a bad idea to look for comic opportunities on the subject of women's self-image in this age of anorexic supermodels and worship of weight loss.

Indeed, Patricia Cardoso's endearing HBO film "Real Women Have Curves" already has shown the way. Regrettably, the approach taken here by debuting writer-director Nnegest Likke is to hurl every imaginable fat joke on the screen in hopes that some will stick. Few do.

After a short run in urban areas, this Fox Searchlight release could perform better on home video.

Mo'Nique, the comic who starred on UPN's "The Parkers" for five years, not only stars in the film but embodies the underlying problem: Mo'Nique's in-your-face, combative approach runs roughshod over any attempt to examine the cultural, generational or social attitudes that lead to America's fixation on thinness.

The writing is rudimentary and the direction often awkward, but Mo'Nique would confound a veteran director. Because she is not really an actress, essentially she can convey two emotions -- bubbly excess or petulant pout, with the threat of violence hanging over each. Which turns any character into a manic depressive.

Mo'Nique plays Jazmin Biltmore -- yes, Biltmore, you wanna make something of it? Body size has destroyed her social life and self-esteem. She works in a department store's women's department and does have good ideas about a clothing line for plus-size women, but her boss, Dick (Jack Noseworthy) -- oh, does Mo'Nique have fun with that name -- won't let her show her sketches to the head buyer (Eric Roberts).

When Jazmin wins a week at a Palm Springs spa, she takes along her companion in corpulence Stacey (Kendra C. Johnson) and her cousin Mia (Joyful Drake) who, working from a different family Gene Pool, is a knockout.

At the spa, they run into a group of Nigerian doctors. Wouldn't you know it, in their culture, fat is where it's at. So muscular Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis) puts the moves on Jazmin, and Akibo (Godfrey) whisks Stacey off to bed, while Godwin (Dayo Ade) gets stuck with "matchstick" Mia.

Although the course of true love proves bumpy, the experience transforms Jazmin's self-esteem. She eventually launches her clothing line, then flies off to Africa to claim her stud doctor without a thought of how she might run an American business while acting as a Nigerian housewife.

Production values are substandard for a studio release.


Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight Pictures and Outlaw Prods. present an Outlaw/Sneak Preview Entertainment production in association with 10 Times Greater Prods.


Screenwriter-director: Nnegest Likke

Producers: Bobby Newmyer, Steven J. Wolfe

Executive producers: Mo'Nique, Steven Imes III

Directors of photography: John Njaga Demps, Dean Lent

Production designers: Warren Alan Young, Natasha Baumgardner

Music: Stephen Endelman

Costumes: Ronda Bell, Susan Chan, Marvlyn Harrison

Editor: Zack Arnold. Cast: Jazmin: Mo'Nique

Tunde: Jimmy Jean-Louis

Akido: Godfrey

Stacey: Kendra C. Johnson

Mia: Joyful Drake

Dick Eckhard: Jack Noseworthy

Robert Myer: Eric Roberts

Running time -- 109 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13 »

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1 item from 2006

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