Better Than Chocolate (1999) Poster

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A lesbian midsummer night's dream
smoothhoney126524 July 2005
Well, what can one say about this film? You could just agree to all the bad critics that have been written about it – that "Better than chocolate" is nothing more but a cliché and an unrealistic fairy tale. Fairy tale's the word: What is cinema supposed to be if not a fairy tale? It's unrealistic; it helps us forgetting our daily troubles and allows us to dream and to bathe in romantic feelings. And these are exactly the reasons I recommend "Better than chocolate" and think that it's a splendid movie, a hilarious comedy and a love story so sweet you just get enchanted by it.

It's a classic: The sweet princess, Meggie, just quit university and preferred becoming part of Vancouver's gay scene, performing in a gay bar (and she's so great in it!) and working in a lesbian book store. Things seem to go pretty fine until the day when Maggie's Mum Lila calls and informs our princess that she just left her current husband and wants to move in with Maggie, bringing Maggie's teen brother Paul with her. The problem is: Mum doesn't know (or doesn't want to know) that her little daughter is gay. Things get even more problematic when one night, after her performing at the club, Maggie meets her knight, who does not wear an armour or ride a white horse, but who is an attractive, tough and cool girl named Kim, rides a funky van and lives on the road, earning her money with drawing portraits. When all the characters mentioned above finally find themselves living under the same roof some days later, things become chaotic and almost grotesque cause it's so obvious that Kim and Meggie are a couple but Lila is simply blind for it.

Mind you, the movie also deals with other interesting characters. We get to know Frances, the neurotic owner of the book shop Maggie works in. There is also Judy, who once was Jeremy, but now is a woman and hopelessly in love with Frances. And don't forget Carla, whose favourite pass of time is sex, who seduces almost every person crossing her way, is an expert in the newest *toys* and digs on Maggie as well as her brother Paul.

Of course it's one or two clichés, I mentioned it before. But if you see how lightly and heart-warmingly the story is told, if you hear the hilarious jokes and one-liners, follow the soft filming of the camera you just can't help forgetting about those clichés and falling in love with this movie. For in the middle of this colourful chaos the love story between Kim and Maggie is the calm and comforting pole, it's told in silent pictures and gentle sounds (which become a bit louder when it comes to … well, the making love part). And this beautiful love story has highlights of its own, and I don't want to reveal even one of them. I can only say that much: A lot of colour and … goddesses ;) (everyone who's seen the movie of course knows what I'm talking about) There is also something else I love about this film: Although it's a fairy tale and most parts of it are simply utopic, "Better than chocolate" can be inspiring and show possibilities: The possibility of an alternative life style and that you can be comfortable with it, no matter what others might think, the possibility to break out of certain expectations society burdens us with and the possibility to love differently. For example when Maggie quits her finance studies to live her dream of being an author. So, besides allowing us to dream, this film also gives incredible hope and this might be its greatest strength.

A word on the cast which is simply – brilliant. And before concentrating on one of the protagonists, who in my opinion stood out, I'd like to compliment the others. There is this young actor playing Paul, who up to "Better than chocolate" has had no acting experience but is very good at what he's doing. There is the sex-ridden but likable Carla. The neurotic Frances – Canada's currently probably most famous lesbian actress and author Ann-Marie MacDonald (and according to director Anne Wheeler the only openly gay actress participating in this movie). The icing on the cake in this film are two profound Canadian actors – Wendy Crewson as Lila and Peter Outerbridge as Judy. Wendy (who is probably most familiar as Harrison Ford's wife in "Air Force One") is just outstanding as the confused, sweet and clueless Mum with a weakness for chocolate. Peter Outerbridge is just incredible as Judy and you really have a hard time to believe that this is his first transsexual performance – he's so great in this role and just a beautiful woman. And now let me point out the person who impressed me most with her performance: Christina Cox as Kim. She's hot, she's sexy, she's tough and cool but at the same time so soft and feminine. I think only few actresses can add so many different facets to their role. I mean, she could have easily played a simple butch, but she adds such charisma and dignity to her character – it's just amazing. There, enough said, she's just great.

The movie's soundtrack is a highlight of its own – Sarah McLachlan with "Ice Cream" for example – and perfectly mirrors the film's young spirit, it's modern, it's sexy, it's dreamy and it rocks. And with this I'd like to give "Better than chocolate" three thumbs up – a summer movie with heart, soul, humour and a lot of love.
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Niamh_bermingham4 January 2005
I can honestly say that I have never seen a lesbian move that really made me feel all warm and snuggly. I just thought the whole plot was perfect. I have nothing bad to say about the actual movie itself. I really thought they picked the perfect people to play the main parts. Having good actors and actresses really make the whole movie more enjoyable.

Better Than Chocolate certainly was one of those movies where you could sit back and relax and just enjoy it. A true romantic comedy. I personally have not seen a movie that shows what life is really like for lesbians and well, this one certainly does. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone. Old and young alike.
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Better than double fudge!!!
junecatpower4 September 2004
I thought I should start closing my blinds at night, since the character of Frances IS me! I was extremely impressed by the two leads, Karen Dwyer and Christina Cox.

Their love making scenes were utterly realistic, a tribute to the acting ability of these two lovely ladies.(unless, of course, they are truly lesbians) But for me, the supporting cast was equally amazing. This is a group of great Canadian actors, who have proven once again that Canada can hold her own when it comes to

the arts. Outstanding performances by Peter Outerbridge, Anne-Marie MacDonald and

Wendy Crewson. I loved every one of you. I think anyone who feels the need to dis this movie is taking life way too

seriously!(Nothing like a dyke with an attitude, eh?)
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Not the best lesbian film
IAmTheEnemy10 August 2006
I liked this movie. It wasn't the best lesbian film I've seen, but it's quite sweet.

I'll get the bad points of the movie out of the way first. My main problem with the film was that the characters weren't really deep. You couldn't really relate to them much as the makers only skimmed the surface of their personalities. I felt the same way with the plot, too. It needed a few viewings before I could really get into this film.

On the other hand. Although a little bland, the characters where still quite sweet. And funny. My favourite being Judy, the loveliest drag-queen ever!

If you like romantic little stories, and are a fan of gay cinema - then you should see this movie.
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Poor characters.
Kabukistar26 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I had high expectations going into this movie. I've heard such good things about it, and saw that it won those awards. About a quarter of the way through, though, I realized that it wasn't so great. Most of the characters were pretty one-dimensional. From the over-bearing, life-invading mother, to gang-raping skinhead men who randomly roaming the streets of Vancouver. Also, there's the transwoman who has a lame, self-introducing musical number about being a transwoman.

Every antagonistic character was portrayed as fairly Neanderthal-like. Such as the belligerent lesbian trying to kick the transwoman out of the ladies' room, and the men who apparently react to a gorgeous naked woman with ARSON (seriously, WTF).

Anyways, it had some delicious erotic scenes, and some nice romantic sappiness, so it's really not to unbearable to watch, if you don't think to hard.
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Brian_E_Watters22 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, this movie shows just how tastefully lesbian sex can be portrayed on the big screen. It's hot. Super hot. If I saw something like that happen in real life, I think I would explode.

Not hardcore or anything like that, just creative and beautiful. The girls aren't even 10's, but they totally make it work.

Sex aside, this movie actually has quite a good story, is pretty funny, and I think just about every character is likable in some way. But you definitely have to be open minded to enjoy this one.

I wanted to watch this one for all the wrong reasons, only to find out that it is actually a very good movie. I'm glad I watched this one in its entirety... with the sound on.
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a dirty movie that's worth watching
tsf-196223 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is that rarity, a sexually explicit film that's actually good. Chelsea Clinton-lookalike Karen Dwyer is a college dropout whose family doesn't know she's gay. Just as she's beginning her first serious relationship with beautiful Christina Cox, her mother (a hilarious Wendy Crewson) and teenage brother come for a visit. While Maggie (Dwyer) attempts to hide her relationship, her mother befriends a pre-operative transsexual and her brother makes time with a beautiful, sexually promiscuous bisexual. The movie gets bogged down in politics toward the end, but for the most part it's quite entertaining. Crewson displays an enormous comic talent as a middle aged woman rediscovering her sexuality and the sex scenes between Dwyer and Cox are beautiful and romantic. This film is aimed primarily at the gay/lesbian crowd but should appeal to quite a few straights as well. If you think Canadians are dull, rent this film and see for yourself.
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Great film!
lev-3623 October 2000
I was expecting a pleasant bit of romantic fluff, but instead found this movie to be hilarious, hot, poignant and well-acted. The humor is all about the difficulties we face in communicating with each other, fears of coming out, of taking risks. The romantic content is passionate and believable. And the ultraviolet Julie Christie number is not to be missed.
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It's Never Too Late For Love, Even If It's Battery Operated
bkoganbing13 February 2007
Better Than Chocolate is a Canadian film about the relationship between mother and daughter which turns out to be a lot closer than we're originally led to believe. As the mother, Wendy Crewson appears to be oblivious to the fact that daughter Karyn Dwyer is a lesbian.

At least that's how it appears when she drops in unannounced on her daughter and a recent new girl friend, Christina Cox. The pretext is that Dwyer has dropped out of the university, but Crewson wants to check out more than that.

Acting honors in this film go to Peter Outerbridge who plays the transgender woman Judy, formerly Jeremy. Outerbridge in his own way is playing a role as much a pioneering effort as Hillary Swank in Boys Don't Cry. Had this been a major American film, we might have been talking Oscar for him.

Outerbridge is a wise old soul who's seen life from a few different perspectives. She's been cast out by her family, kind of like Michael Dunn is Ship of Fools. Just as Dunn's parents didn't want a dwarf around and gave him spending money to constantly travel, Outerbridge's parents by him a flat precisely so he can live away from them. It's quite a scene when Judy discovers that the flat is really a kiss off. Crewson and Outerbridge aid each other in their moment of crisis.

If nothing else should have tipped her off that Dwyer was not living the 'normal' life those battery operated sex toys should have said something. Of course Crewson finds they have their uses and she who has said that sex is now being sworn off for chocolate finds that even battery operated love is better than no love at all.

Better Than Chocolate is funny and sweet and endearing all at the same time. A triple threat on the emotions from Anne Wheeler in Canada.
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The problem with Canadian cinema...
MarioB12 August 2000
The problem with Canadian cinema is that most of the time it is pretty good, pretty different from those ugly Hollywood formulas. Another problem is we don't have the chance to see these movies in Canadian theatres, because it is filled with USA. Director Anne Wheeler is from west Canada. It's the third of her movies I see : Loyalties (1986, with fantastic Indian actress Tantoo Cardinal) Bye bye blues (1989) These two have a Canadian cultural edge to it. Not this one : it is universal, but set in Canada. What the three movies have in common is the FEELINGS! They are also very feminine. This one is a romantic comedy, with good acting by Christina Cox and charming Karyn Dwyer. It's fun, human, intelligent. Did I have to say this is a movie about lesbians? Not really : it's just a pretty good romantic comedy. I'd like to see more of Anne Wheeler because I'm sure she's a great talent from Canada. By the way, I'm sure that Canadians from the west don't really know about Quebec's films. Very sad! We make a pretty good lesbian picture too : Revoir Julie. Thanks to miss Wheeler and all the cast.
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Like a Leonard Cohen song
cynharm17 September 2002
BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE is just like a ballad by Leonard Cohen: it starts of slow, seems to be going nowhere, then inexplicably arrives at a place of romantic power and beauty. Everything, from the performers to the script to the direction get better and better as the movie progresses. 5/10 for the first half of the film, 9/10 for the second half.
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A beautiful celebration of life, love, and diversity.
gaburu15 April 2004
This is a wonderful movie rich in both love and life. Maggie, a worldly yet closeted twenty-year-old runs into her new girlfriend Kim, a similarly aged artist-on-the-road, the day before her mother and brother come to live with her and romantic adventure ensues. Maggie's mother, Lila, believes the only pleasure left in the world after her divorce is chocolate, but soon finds there still is more to life. This film covers all the bases of the LGBT spectrum and, while occasionally using stereotypes, is a beautiful way to celebrate diversity. This is one of my favorite movies for the subtle humor and beautiful theme of the movie and I, personally, give it an A+!
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Good lesbian movie--an oxymoron?
Larri12319 December 2001
Before Wheeler and Thompson set out to make Better than Chocolate, they interviewed several lesbians about what they wanted to see in a film. Disregarding the fact that the number one response was sex toys (?!), this method here points up the major problem with the film--in trying to be the ultimate lesbian film, it doesn't succeed as a narrative film at all.

First of all is the problem of the romance between the two main characters. In a typical romantic comedy, which this tries to be, regardless of the atypical gender roles, you have a series of problems keeping the couple apart. Here this is not the case--like many other lesbian movies, Better than Chocolate suffers from the misconception that when two lesbians meet, they immediately fall in love. Add to this the fact that neither character has any distinguishable personality traits, and you wind up with a serious lack of plot. No tension here, and no reason to particularly care.

The next problem is the rest of the story (sorry, guys). For whatever reason, in promoting a positive image of lesbians, Better than Chocolate feels the need to stereotype each one of its other characters. So you've got the repressed bookstore owner, repressed transsexual, the repressed housewife, and the "omnisexual" bisexual. The one story line that did seem to go somewhere was the friendship between Lila, the mom, and the transsexual character. But, unfortunately, it took second place to the love story, so no luck there.

The final flaw here is in the censorship subplot, which really has no place in the story--it just feels like the writer had a desire to make a (muddled) political statement. Like the rest of the story lines, it appears out of no where and we never get the feeling that anything is at risk. As a result, the final, dramatic blow up at the end, feels tacked on--an attempt to give the film a dramatic quality it was lacking all along.

Over all, Better than Chocolate has been received pretty well. That its rating on this website is much higher than I believe it deserves seems once again a perfect example of the lesbian population's need for a good, representative film. Trust me, I'd like to see one just as much as anyone, but Better than Chocolate hits way below the mark. It's a shame more lesbian films aren't made because if this movie can do so well, it's a clear example that there's a hungry market out there.
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Surprise surprise
teslaman29 November 2007
Well, the drama category is not really my cup of tea but i got stuck when this came on the other night and am now glad that i got stuck.

It's actually not A love story but more like love stories. We have the lesbian couple, the lesbian book store owner who is loved in secret by the transvestite, the main characters brother who meets a bi-sexual girl and more....

It deals with many of the issues people have with sexual multitude, even amongst the lines of people who are not straight. We get to see how these people experience both joy and anger, frustration and satisfaction.

This is a real little gem and everybody should see it. It has a very playful atmosphere and even the sex scenes has that same playfulness to them. It doesn't feel forced or dirty but more like you go with the flow and follow a natural beautiful progress of the relationships. I especially like Karyn Dwyer's effort, natural talent at it's best. It works on many levels and is really clever and well made.

Why not give it a try?
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gay life exposed!
kristin-crites13 August 2005
Finally a movie FROM the GLBT community FOR the GLBT community, ABOUT the GLBT community!! The ways in which this film explores issues of love, family, identity and the constant fight to have basic human rights (to love and be loved) are a rarity to find, especially in any form following Hollywood film. For once the gay character in a movie isn't the laughing joke of the film, instead the straight person(Maggie's mom, filled with ignorance and anger)is. This movie might be hard to watch if you are caught up in the heteronormative society in which we reside, where minor forms of gay bashing are still acceptable, but will give you a perspective that unless you are part of the community, you have Never thought of. What a great movie!
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An excellent movie with great characters
blackriverfalls26 August 2003
This is a really good story about the trials and tribulations of two young women in love. Complex issues like pornography and censorship are dealt with intelligently. Also a very good portrayal of a transgendered character nightclub performer.
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Not Very Good
Hotoil24 September 2001
This movie just bounced between embarrisingly lame & cliche to simply boring. There have been better movies dealing with homophobia, coming out (seeing as 80% of mainstream gay movies are about coming out), and lesbian romance. This movie sails through as if it's the first to deal with either three topics, with thin stereotypes for characters that make the slapstick comedy easy but the dramatic moments quite unengaging. Apart from the lead role, which is played well, the rest of the talent has a hard time not playing as if they are in a sitcom, which this script would be far better suited for minus the poor attempts at fleshed out drama and social commentary.
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Who Could Not Enjoy This Movie?
ladymidath12 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Better than chocolate was a sweet, funny and tender film that explores the lives and loves of a disparate group of people. Maggie and Kim, Francis and Judy *who was once Jeremy* and in the middle of it all is Lila, Maggie's rather naive mother who with her teenage son, moves in with Maggie. The scenes between the neurotic Francis and Judy are wonderful and the scene where Francis confronts a customs officer that is holding up her books is priceless. But most importantly, it shows that love comes in all shapes and forms.

You don't have to be a lesbian to love this movie. Just grab a big bowl of popcorn, sit back and enjoy.
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i wouldn't say it's better than chocolate, but it's a start!!
ajk7186 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
in my opinion, "better than chocolate" is not the awesome movie that some people call it on this site, but it is also not an absolute failure. it is a typical love story between two lesbians. the plot seems very recycled as well. the mother and teenage brother of one of the girls decides to move in because of her recent divorce, and, of course, the mother doesn't know that her daughter's "friend" that is also living with her is really her lover.

of course, there are a few side plots in addition to this. for example, maggie, one of the girls, works in a bargain bookstore that sells mostly sexually explicit-type books. the owner of the bookstore ordered some books and the shipment is held at the border by customs because of the pornographic material.

there are also some love stories on the side as well. for example, a bisexual friend of maggie's falls in love with her teenage brother that moves in. also the lesbian bookstore owner starts having a relationship with a transsexual. he is getting ready to have a sex change operation to turn him into a woman.

i also thought it was funny when maggie's mother finds the box of dildos underneath the bed and uses one of them (no nudity shown here). as far as the nudity and sex scenes go, i don't find that much of it too explicit so if that is all your looking for, look further, but i definitely do not think it is for children because the few sex scenes that are in this movie do get somewhat hot.

overall, the movie was good but nothing special!
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Superb work with strong universal appeal
questor2-120 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Of the more than one thousand productions I have seen during my lifetime, this is definitely among the top three.

It is strong in almost every respect, from its cinematography to its background music.

To me, its highest appeal is its unqualified universality of emotion. How many of us have not had a parent step in at some supremely inopportune moment and ruin something valuable in our lives? How many of us have not been hated by someone who sees the world differently? How many of us have not instantly fallen in love? It is almost irrelevant that the production is set in the gay section of Vancouver or that the main characters focus on same sex love. It is emotions common to everyone that give the production its extreme appeal. I was cheering the girls, and would have been very hurt if they had not gotten back together again.

I might add that this is the only DVD I have seen in which I enjoyed the director's comments as much as the production itself.

Both of the young actresses displayed an amazing variety of facial expressions. The shot focusing on Cox's deep blue eyes while Karyn is unable to confront her mother with the truth is priceless, as is Cox's gesture half hiding her face and half saying "so what" as she flees the applauding crowd after the bathroom scene.

The film's only weakness, in my opinion, is that everybody found someone in the end, at least at the very same instant. Life is simply not that generous.

In summary, few viewers will be leave this experience feeling worse than when they began.
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Very Nice Film
andydufresne7 April 2000
Being straight, I think I might have seen the film a little differently. Loved the way the lesbian sex scenes were shot. It was graphic without getting even CLOSE to being obscene. The camera work on the brother peeking scene was excellent. Felt like I was really there walking around that curtain.

Wendy Crewson(Harrison Ford's wife in Air Force One) with the box of toys is a delight.

There were stereotypes...mostly though of the straight characters. Have a few G/L friends but never been to a gay bar but I'm assuming that since they didn't have ONE style of lesbian....all the lesbian characters were different...that they couldn't have done much stereotyping there.

No surprises in this movie and it's not for the prudish but was enjoyable and I didn't think too loaded down with political content. Treated lesbians as normal people. And really isn't that what everybody wants? The list of books in the book banning sequence is pretty realistic of what happens when those that know what is best for us start trying to "help us out".

I bought it.
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Delight in the Peripheries
artvamp7 September 1999
Before you see Peggy Thompson and Anne Wheeler's "Better Than Chocolate", ask yourself if you want to see yet another lesbian film heavy with issues. I, unfortunately, get easily irritated by movies weighed down with a political agenda, but, fortunately, this one had enough funny charm and emotional content to keep me interested. The framework of the film is your typical girl meets girl, girl almost loses girl because she can't come out to her parents scenario. The very involved subplots, however, create the film's promise.

Lila (Wendy Crewson) is the betrayed house-wife going through a divorce, and mother-cum-roommate (and she's not the only character we get to see cum in the film) of the movie's central character, Maggie (Karyn Dwyer). Aside from the artfully sensual (yummy!) love-making scenes between the main character and her new girlfriend Kim (Christina Cox), the friendship formed between Lila, and her daughter's transgender friend Judy (Peter Outerbridge) makes for some of the movie's most delightful moments.

One character who isn't given nearly enough screen time is Carla (Marya Delver), a gorgeous "omnisexual" (as described by Maggie) feminine biker babe who works at the bookstore that serves as the dramatic hub of the film. She is flirtatious and outrageously forthright with her sexual appetites. Carla seduces Maggie's seventeen year old brother Paul (Kevin Mundy) into exploring new possibilities (after all, "boys like toys, too."). I couldn't help thinking, however, that the writer was, at times, poking gentle fun at her, though with no real disrespect intended.

As an interesting side note, the film steps outside the realm of gender and sexual politics to touch on other sensitive issues. One of those being the role of the artist. Almost all the film's characters are artists in one way or another. From Maggie's window installations, to Lila's forsaken Opera career, to Judy's fantastic nightclub acts, to Kim's paintings, the arts are heavily addressed. In the dialogue between Lila and other characters we see that, as filmmakers, the writer and director have a real grasp on the difficulties of being creators. What is fascinating is that "coming out" as an artist, in the film, is nearly equated with coming out as a lesbian. Aside from the annoying in-your-face rhetorical quality typical of many gay and lesbian films, "Better Than Chocolate" is warmly amusing and appealing to those of any gender or sexual orientation.
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Easy to shoot down.. yet easy to enjoy
7tagman714 February 2002
I see that a lot of people didn't like for reasons that I can agree on. But somehow I never speculated on the stereotype castings and the unrealistic lesbian love. It's the first time I watched a gay movie anyway.

How to enjoy this movie: Watch it as if it was a Disney movie, and smile at the fact that this Disney movie actually hails alternative living and unamerican politics. I fell in love with this movie. The whole vibe was really sweat, it made me smile a lot, exactly the way that Almost Famous did.
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this movie was awesome!!!
micshad2121 June 2005
Okay so many people think this movie was sappy and sucked or was just cheesy. well all i have to say is until you have lived as a lesbian and watch pretty much every lesbian movie on the market you can't say a word. this is the best lesbian romantic comedy to date and the truest portrait of what it's really like to be in love. gay or straight you can relate to this movie. it has enough sexual feeling to keep the movie going but the movie is fully supported on it's own. if you have anything else to say to me about this then say it already..... please type in the subject line..."better than Chocolate"
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Not Better Than Chocolate, But Not Bad
jmatrixrenegade18 August 2003
This movie is somewhat annoying because it goes out of its way to be "political correct," but if one looks past that, it is pretty good if taken on its own terms. The movie has a "kitchen sink" philosophy of sorts by trying to toss in loads of material ... not only do we have a "baby lesbian" falling for a offbeat (but deep down, sensitive) artist, we have a transsexual, a mom experiencing her sexuality, commentary on conservative Canadian obscenity laws that were meant to help women but turned out harming lesbians, an "omnisexual," opportunity for an offbeat romance for the bookstore owner, promotion of sex toys, etc. You are almost overwhelmed and all done in a PC way without many surprises.

All the same, the movie is enjoyable because of the very things some find problematic -- joyfully promoting all things in a cheerful way. It is basically a fun movie ... you enjoy seeing the mom come of her shell (the title refers to her chocolate habit), the joys of young lesbian love, and so on. A special nod should got to the well done performance of the transsexual (it is only fitting to note that I think "drag queen" is a misnomer because she wants to live a woman, not just dress up as one ... it is more than a matter of clothing and affect).

The whole thing has a bit of "too good to be true" about it, but I applaud the sentiment. As with "Bar Girls," this movie at times has better intentions than great movie material, but as with that movie (more so actually) the cast is game, and we applaud them for a pretty enjoyable effort all the same.

Not quite better than chocolate, especially double fudge, but at times, equally good -- and less fattening.

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