September 7, 2000

Where's the Cream Filling?

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With episodic tales of New York City bachelor life, Manhattan hot-spots, landmark backdrops, outrageous depictions of foreplay, menage a trois, varied partners and positions, and toilet plunged vibrators, the potential for Whipped to be a successful work of entertainment would seem a viable possibility. However, just like the topic of the film, good entertainment is not only in subject matter, but far more so in the execution. Unfortunately, Peter M. Cohen’s Whipped is about as satisfying to watch as sex is for Amanda Peet’s character Mia. In a word, disappointing.

It is Sunday morning in a Manhattan steel-box diner. Breakfast time. Four friends sit in a window booth discussing their weekend exploits. There’s Brad (Brian Van Holt) the Wall Street I-banker with the fail-safe pick-up lines and the Cassanovian conquest list, Zeke (Zorie Barber) the egomaniacal pseudo-artistic East Villager excitedly reliving his weekend threesome, Johnathan (Johnathan Abrahams) the overtly sensitive musician who is of late only intimate with his hand, and Eric (Judah Donke) the true lost cause — also known as “the married guy.”

Sunday breakfast meetings are a ritual: testosterone-driven sessions of can-you-top-this sex stories replete with running commentary and elbow-nudging insults thrown back and forth amongst the former college buddies. All is well in this world of alpha-males until Mia comes along as chameleon and vixen: the woman that the three bachelors have each always dreamed of, and now are all “involved with” — simultaneously …

Somewhere between the cult favorite Swingers, the hit HBO sitcom Sex and the City, and There’s Something About Mary, this film never really finds an independent direction to pursue. The screenplay is a confused jumble of “girl-coming-between-friends” centerpiece with too many tangential side stories for one to keep track of. Accordingly, characters often seem to be spitting out as much perversity as possible for the sole purpose of including “lots of stuff” in the film, without any real rhyme or reason for such placement.

The humor sometimes comes across effectively, though more often it seems miswritten or poorly delivered. While the crux of successful comedy should be well-written dialogue, stylized and structured, the overuse of material, no matter how shocking, ultimately leads to boredom.

The ensemble cast supplies a barrage of hyperbolic performances, akin to a sixth grade class play where the teacher instructs everyone to “speak real loud.” The caricatured group of misanthropes constantly spews lines which are only slight variations of those heard just minutes earlier, though at an increased decibel level.

For instance, in an early scene when Brad is telling of his date’s fellatio missteps, he talks in circles, taking steam out of a situation with intrinsically capable, humorous overtones. It is not clear whether the overacting is the result of hammed deliverance or misdirection, but either way, it hurts the film.

Amanda Peet, the centerpiece of Whipped in trailers and advertisements, is more often mentioned and panned to than she actually appears. She plays her role as manipulative girlfriend to the committee of male pursuers smoothly and capably, though the part does not demand all that much from her.

The freedom of a cinematic release and an R-rating give this film a great amount of creative leeway to explore sex and many issues surrounding the act in an entertaining manner. Unfortunately, Whipped falls far short of what it could be and often seems like it’s already been done. And although at times funny, Whipped is too often childishly crude and cliched to make for an effective film.

Archived article by L. Weiss