Retro-mad review briefly: “A Girl Thing” (US, 2001, TV movie)

There are just so many things wrong with this film, despite the positive reviews from the American media – admittedly from the gay media – but the one thing I’ve realized is gay media will lap up any TV show or film about GLBT people for as long as it portrays GLBT people. Never mind that it is mediocre, or just plain awful, it’s the visibility that matters. Well, I don’t agree with that mindset, and if I find mediocrity in any show or film featuring GLBT people, I would be ruthless.

I came across “A Girl Thing” whilst bored and surfing the internet for more lesbian or lesbian-themed films I can forcefeed down my unsuspecting readers (^^) and saw this one. Like I am wont to do, I surf other sites to see what they thought of it (not because I have no mind of my own, but because I don’t want to waste my time on crappy films). There were positive reviews on this one. Besides, it has a supermodel (Elle McPherson), Steven Spielberg’s wife (Kate Capshaw) and Stockard Channing. What could go wrong, right? Supermodels were a rite of passage for me – while other young girls were busy acclimating to their assigned gender and heterosexual roles, I was busy oggling Cindy Crawford covers on Cosmopolitan (this was before they were franchised and started showing Filipino models instead). This is thus an excuse to show my favorite Supermodel music video of all time, George Michael’s “Freedom 90”:

Anyway,as I mentioned, since there were positive reviews I happily sat down bereft of a sense of foreboding or fear that it would suck. Boy, was I wrong. Sitting through this drive is more excruciating than a root canal. In fact, a root canal might actually be better than this.

The story:

The story opens with hotshot lawyer Lauren Travis (Australian supermodel-turned-actress Elle McPherson, who, clearly having not learned her lesson when she starred in one of the Batman movies, tries her luck again in another movie. Word to Elle: Give up, mate!) going to her therapist, Dr. Beth Noonan (the always awesome Stockard Channing) to process a lesbian experience she has with another woman. The woman in question is Casey Montgomery (Kate Capshaw), an equally successful exec that Lauren meets during a double date. At the end of the night, they find themselves more interested in each other than the bad dates they both end up with, ending up exchanging phone numbers instead. Naturally they call each other, bond, end up having dinner by themselves, culminating in the climactic seduction/love scene, followed by the processing (mostly on Lauren’s part, who is confused by her feelings), the requisite squirm-worthy anti-lesbian things happening (gossip around the office, friends abandoning her, job a bit on the line) and the parting of ways at the end of the story.

See, I have no problem with TV shows, TV movies (this is one of those) or movies tackling post-millenial gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered experience. Changing definitions and ideas of what it means to be gay is well and good, and I am always for open, healthy discourse about this. This film raises issues as, is homosexuality a choice, a lifestyle or something you are born with? Is sexuality fluid? Age-old discussions amongst GLBT circles, I know, but as the world becomes more and more open (and paradoxically more reactionary in the process, as the California Supreme Court shows in its decision to uphold Prop. 8), such discussion helps explore the tricky waters that is sexuality.

Except – watching this was a bit awkward for me, and the dialogue and acting is a bit wooden, excruciating, the plot points grimace-inducing.First of all, it is hard for me to suspend disbelief and be convinced that Elle McPherson and Kate Capshaw are lesbians (or bisexuals, for that matter). Elle McPherson is nothing other than Elle McPherson playing Elle McPherson trying to pull off being a person suddenly interested in a woman. Ditto for Kate Capshaw. The love scenes go on more than is necessary and I had to stay awake during most of it. It was uninspired and trite. Like the acting. I can diss L-Word’s storyline all I want, but that TV show never failed to induce a variety of emotions from me – primarily surprise. Because that show, for all its faults, surprises with the acting and range of its actors.

Another thing is the irrational behavior Travis’ bestfriend, played by Kelly Rowan (from The O.C. – the MILF who introduced me to the word “MILF”) suddenly displays. Yes, being gay can induce many kinds of reactions from homophobes, but Rowan’s character’s reaction – bordering on irrational hysteria and hatred, is puzzling. What? Does she have a crush on Lauren or something? Is she jealous that Lauren is getting some and she isn’t?What?!? Clearly I’m missing something. Maybe if I bang my head against the keyboards some more I’ll be enlightened.

Furthermore, the dialogue is about as exciting as watching traffic. Either that, or as about as excruciating. Consider these lines: Lauren Travis  – “Let me ask you something, do you think that lesbianism and alcoholism are directly related?” and Casey Montgomery answers, “Maybe”.  Also, Casey describes herself as a “career bisexual”. Now, this just makes me say, “What the hell?”

But the winner is Casey Montgomery dishing the dirt about her night with Lauren Travis to her bestfriend: “We did everything but insert foreign objects into each other“. That one just makes me say….eeewww. I understand the need to be detailed when it comes to writing – but that is just way too much information for me.

One line though sums up Casey Montgomery’s dillemma: “I don’t even have the balls to be bisexual”.

Clearly, this movie lacks the balls, full stop.

That being said, the one redeeming value is watching the amazing Stockard Channing. I loved her in “Grease”, loved her in “To Wong Foo”, I loved her “First Wives Club” and pretty much anything where she stars. Here, as a tribute to Stockard Channing, I post my favorite scene from “The First Wives Club”  (or as I like to call it – the First Ajumas Club)

Alright, Stockard Channing is not in this one, but it was still a funny movie and that scene is one my favorites. Goldie Hawn trumps daughter Kate Hudson every time. ^^ It’s scenes like this that make me have this internal soundtrack, playing in my head, like it’s part of a movie or something.

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