Tomcats makes me ashamed to be human. It’s that bad.
The early part of the 2001 movie season saw the release of a rash of grossout pictures. Such included Joe Dirt and See Spot Run and culminated in the ne plus ultra of disgustingness in the abomination that was Freddy Got Fingered, starring Tom “he makes me” Green. Of all these ulcers, the only one to come close to Freddy Got Fingered’s caliber is the case at bar, Tomcats. Whatever you think about Ebert, when he dishes out a zero star review, Jabootu faithful everywhere should sit up and take notice. In fact, Ebert’s new review mate, Roeper, picked Tomcats over Freddy Got Fingered for his pick as worst movie of 2001.
As some may have gathered from my Freddy Got Fingered review, my threshold of pain is low for grossout movies. Making fun of these things is like shooting fish in a frying pan. But occasionally the planets align, the cultists dance around broken stones in the moonlight, Jabootu rises from the depths, and disharmonic convergence occurs-a movie slouches towards Bethlehem that has it all: puerile bathroom humor, an aggressively boring, predicable, and ridiculous plot, vicious male chauvinism, a dash of homophobia, a lot of shopworn teenage sexual hi-jinks, and just-plain-lousy writing and acting.
As said in the Sextette review, bad comedies are rarely seen on Jabootu, probably with good reason. Whereas failed drama, action, and horror lead to laughs aplenty, failed comedy is deader than a morgue at midnight. But not just bad humor fails the laugh test under analysis, good humor melts as well. Consider…(pause to dredge up a scene from a popular movie widely thought to be funny)…the “those aren’t pillows!” hotel room scene in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Remember? With the socks in the sink and Candy’s gigantic undies on the towel rack? That was funny. But if I describe it to you; if I deconstruct it as to how and why it’s funny, it will ceases to be funny. As the essayist E.B. White once opined, “Humor can be dissected, like a frog, but the thing dies in the process.” Really bad humor can, however, still provoke a smirk among bad movie gurus like y’all. So here I go, with open arms, into another comedy. Why? Revenge. And I won’t have to explain further 19 pages from now. My only hope is to wring from you, my dearest readers, a few mild guffaws along the journey.
I watched this at home, so I’ve no tales of theater woes to lay on you as I did with Freddy Got Fingered. However, you know it’s a bad movie when you find yourself blathering contrite explanations to the anonymous clerk at Schlockbuster:
(clerk eyes the movie, looks down at me, eyes the movie again…)
“Well, I’m only renting this movie because I’m a movie reviewer. Well, not a ‘real’ reviewer like the guy in the newspaper. I mean, I am a reviewer, but only of bad movies and…well, what I trying to say is that I don’t like movies like this but I have to watch it to review it. See?!” (waving a DVD of A Beautiful Mind before me like a talisman) “I watch good movies! Really, I do! Stop looking at me like that!“
One brief procedural thing before we get it on. As Nun of Jabootu, I seek to hit the Challenger Deep of each genre once. But I also want to pick a movie to eviscerate that has seen wide theatrical release in my lifetime. I’ve done a grossout movie (and, unfortunately, I’m about to do another). Now I’m going to attack a proximal cousin: the raunchy teenage sex comedy. Some folks have mentioned that there is no way I can honestly review a grossout or teenage raunch comedy because of my membership among the fair sex.
Fair enough. There is some validity to that complaint. So I brought a guest to this particular movie viewing, my older step-bother Dalton. I think he qualifies as a “real man”-an ex-Marine, a roughneck (oil rig platform worker), and a rock-ribbed Republican Coors drinker. Unbeknownst to him, I used him as a masculine laugh-o-meter, since not once did my sister, her friend, or I even giggle. So, in this review I will insert a little notice in the three places where he laughed. (Lurking variable alert: Dalton would like to point out that having three women glowering at him every time he deigned to snicker at this sexist bilge “sorta sucked all the fun right out of it.”)
I’d like to point out the the readership that this review does have some feminist motivation. Despite this, our gracious host, the same gentleman whose conservative nature is so often pointed out, has courteously provided me the space to vent. I hope this doesn’t go unnoticed.
[Editor Ken: This sentiment is very kind. Still, I would hope attacking a horrifying fiasco like Tomcats does not violate any conservative tenets! (And t’were ‘feminism’ always so rationally motivated, a lot more folks would call themselves feminists.) Finally, any kudos accorded to me pale besides those earned by Eva for braving this foul film and surviving to retell the grisly tale.]
All right, here we go! Let’s get it on without ambling through lengthy preambles. Picture the adrenaline rush of a long red light, the fun of traffic court, the warmth of Neptune, the laughs of a children’s burn ward, the surprises of Catholic Mass, and all the wit of the cheap seats at a Tuff Man contest, and you have Tomcats!
We open with an animated sequence while the ‘credits’ run. Two little animated animals, a cat and a dog dressed up like guys, chase cartoon (non-animal) women around the screen, ducking in behind the credit text and so forth. In the process, they hammer on each other like Foghorn Leghorn and the Hound Dog of yore. The cartoon women they grope and salivate over are all endowed to a degree that makes Dolly Parton look like Kate Moss, so to speak. Over this pounds the Offspring’s “I Want You Bad.” If they’re talking about this movie, they won’t be disappointed. Actually, this sequence is like Tom & Jerry meets the opening credits for Goldeneye or For Your Eyes Only. We learn that the director and scriptwriter is Gregory Poirier. Mr. Poirier also gave us See Spot Run, another dog from 2001. Oh boy.
Cut to the opening live-action scene, the front stoop of a church. Cartoon letters inform us that this is taking place “seven years ago.” A group of men in tuxedos are sitting on the steps. One is pacing back and forth and ranting. It’s our hero, Jerry O’Connell. He seems distraught…
“Oh my God. I can’t believe this. Oh, this is serious! I mean, this is serious! Oh man!” On and on he goes. Somebody really thought this was funny. Five seconds into this movie and he’s proven himself either an overacting hack or a script-hungry actor-on-the-cheap. Or both. Even Tom “may the grass on his grave be” Green took…oh…ten seconds to irritate me.
“Would you relax? I’m the one getting married!” one of his mates finally says. Then the (*sigh*) character-introduction voiceovers begin. Unlike Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels, however, this movie doesn’t even attempt to let the story and actors explain themselves a little before they’re introduced by the voiceover. No, we’re just told the names of the characters right off the bat. Which means, of course, that everybody is a caricature with the depth of a slice of baloney. It’s a wonder they even bother with names. They could just go with “Sleazy Player™” and “Bumbling Pudgy Guy™” and “Defensive Maybe-Gay Guy™.”
Anyway, Jerry O’ Connell’s voice introduces the groom as Max, the first of a group of friends to be getting married. Then Michael, Jerry O’Connell’s caricature and the movie’s protagonist-or should I say protagodroid?-announces that he’s never getting married. Never! Do you hear me? Never!
To which I shrug and say, “Fine. Whatever.”
Cut to the bride’s dressing room. The voiceover introduces Max’s fiancÃˆ as Kimberly. She’s a Bossy Rich Princess™. The father of the bride appears. Kimberly heatedly asks why things are going so slowly. The conciliatory father explains that the groom and his buds are dragging their feet a bit. The Bossy Rich Princess™ screams “Fix it, Daddy! Make him BEHAVE!!” The scene freezes, showing her face caught in mid-snarl. The voiceover explains that Michael doesn’t like Kimberly, and a cartoon beard and horns is drawn over her face.
The next brief scene gives us two giggling bridesmaids opening a big bottle of wine. One of them dumps in a gob of powder and shakes the bottle to dissolve it. The voiceover explains that Kimberly’s father made his fortune developing a Viagra-like drug. You know, I’m not a screenwriter. Still, if a voiceover has to explain the jokes, then maybe they’re not funny to begin with. Anyway, one of the gals explains that the groom is going to perform like a champ come honeymoon time. The bridesmaids then slip the bottle in with the other wedding presents. It’s the thoughtlessness that counts.
Back to the groom room and the Planet of the Jackanapes. The boys are lying about on couches, passing the very same bottle of drugged wine around. Much boyo banter is thrown around, interspersed with (*snigger*) innuendoes about male arousal: “What’s up with you?” and so forth. During this droll interlude, Michael’s voiceover introduces us to Kyle, played by a sneering, leering Jake Busey. The voiceover-and more cartoon work that draws a cartoon of a pair of spread-wide women’s legs on Kyle’s head-makes it clear that Kyle is the Sleazy Player™, the movie’s antagodroid. More anti-marriage propaganda is spread while the lads look increasingly uncomfortable concerning their stirring privates. Finally, the bride’s father comes in and herds the louts out for the nuptials.
Here comes Kimberly down the aisle with her father. Ersatz Wagner swells in the background, played at double speed so as to hurry things up for the short-attention spans of the 18-and-over movie audience (R rating, remember?).
[Editor Ken: Eva, what are you complaining about? Think how much better the film would play if the whole thing were at double speed.]
A shot shows the groom and his groomsmen with their backs to camera, standing in a line next to the alter, looking distressed and fidgety. Then, in unison, they turn around to meet the bride and lo! all of them are sporting outsized tents in their pants. The crowd gasps. The Bossy Rich Princess’ eyes bug. A mother shields the eyes of a tot. An elderly matron happily exclaims, “Don’t they look handsome in their tuxedos!”
And a pained silence reigns in my apartment. Outside, a lawnmower hums.
Bad gags are one thing. Yet when they take this long to develop, the boredom is palpable-a living thing that feels like it’s actually breathing on your neck.
Alrighty then, cue the post-wedding booze up. This is a little odd, as it shows the boys once again alone at a bar. Much lamentation is going on over the fact that those wedding bells are beginning to break up that old gang of theirs. Michael reiterates that he is dedicating his life to being a professional tomcat (i.e. a male tramp). All the others agree and much manly chest-beating ensues. One goon, John, is especially enthusiastic about his personal sovereignty. Kyle calls him on it, “Hey John, Kelly runs your life!”
“No she doesn’t!” John stammers defensively.
Then, right on cue, this Kelly that Kyle speaks of stomps into the doorway and, her face twisted to a venomous scowl, screeches “John! You’ve got five minutes!” All the other guys point and laugh at the poor sod, some making sizzling “you-got-burned” sounds. And for those keeping score at home: that’s two women-two sniping, domineering hellcats. This movie’s batting a thousand! Of course, the men seem no better. Can a movie be bisexist?
Another guy, Steve, speaks up. Steve (i.e. Bumbling Pudgy Guy™) is played by Horatio Sanz of Saturday Night Live infamy. Well, an SNL film Tomcats ain’t, but I’m sure Jabootu will crack a smile to see SNL’s influence on this movie. It’s somehow appropriate. Anyhoo, Steve’s not getting married either, dammit! Another guy claims that Steve will marry the first woman he sleeps with. There’s some more painfully acted chest-beating. Amplifying the inanity, they decide to put money into a mutual fund, managed by (of course) Nerdy-Looking Brainy Guy™, and to pay it out to whichever one of these sexist dolts stays unmarried the longest.
Since this is the crux of the plot, let us briefly reflect on the utter incoherence of this ‘bachelor pact.’ These guys are acting as if marriage was cancer. Which is nonsense. You hope you don’t get cancer. If you don’t want to get married, you just don’t. It may be theoretically possibly to find someone less interested in how this turns out than me, but I doubt it.
Next up is one of the most painfully hackneyed scenes I’ve wished I was dead through in long time. First, they single out and pointedly exclude Defensive Maybe-Gay Guy™ from the bet. He, in turn, gets angry and retorts, “Ah, blow me!” All the others guys give him a funny look for a second, as if this confirms his supposed closeted status. This kneeslapper behind us, they then join in a circle and chant “Tomcats! Tomcats Tomcats!” with the camera spinning to provide a close up of each of their faces. Finally, were greeted with Steve’s mug as he yells directly into the camera, “You guys are going to lose so bad! I don’t ever want to get married! I don’t!“
Suddenly we see a close up of a well-scrubbed, untossled Steve in a tux saying into the camera, “I do.” Pulling back, we notice we’re now in a Las Vegas wedding chapel, with an Elvis impersonator with an Indian accent officiating the scene. Shaking his hips, he pronounces Steve and a sleek young movie blonde man and wife. “Seven Years Later” is drawn on the screen. The Elvis-Sikh-priest produces a bouquet of flowers and asks that all the unmarried women in the audience step into the aisle to catch the bouquet. One woman in a cocktail dress sheepishly stands up and the Elvis-priest pitches the flowers right at her. I think she’s never seen again in the movie. (Huh? Is this to make the sole unmarried woman in the scene look bad? Beats me.)
Cut to the wedding chapel’s dressing room. The groom and the others, who we recognize as the “Tomcats” from seven years ago, rip off their tear-away tuxes. Time for some move-the-plot-along ‘conversation.’ Hooting it up once again, the guys first razz Steve for getting married. Then someone brings up that all of them have gotten married over the last seven years except Kyle and Michael and that they’re the only ones left in the running for the dough. Then the Nerdy-Looking Brainy Guy™ states that the bachelor pot is up to $480,000 or so. Hey, if this dialogue continues, maybe they’ll just explain the whole weary, paper-thin plot and the movie will be over!
But, alas…cut instead to an obviously paid-for-product-placement shot of the front of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, then inside to a hotel room. Michael and Floozie #347,234 in this movie are snuggling on the bed with wine glasses in hand. Soon, however, there’s a lovers’ spat because Michael is having trouble with the words “I love you.” She leaves in a huff.
Michael, depressed and staggeringly drunk, goes down to the casino where we find out how many signs telling us this is the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino the cameraman can fit into one shot. Michael, angry and not watching his step, pushes down a cocktail waitress with a loaded tray. She’s sent sprawling, glasses flying everywhere. Michael lopes off without a word. Nothing happens. (Riiiiiight! Try behaving like that in any nice casino in Vegas. Hope you have good health insurance for after Gino and Vinny from security string a Rickenbacker bass with your intestines.)
Michael finds his way to a barstool. The waitress he knocked down walks past. He orders a Heineken from her (bet they were happy to see what movie their ad men had wrangled for product placement), just like nothing happened. Steve comes up. Michael glumly tells his tale. Steve goes off into this hideously contrived starry-eyed speech about how Tricia is the only one for him and so on. Michael then cuts married-thus-loser Steve down to size by saying, “Last week *I* had sex with twins!” (Really, Jerry? Gregory Poirier has a twin? That would explain your role in Tomcats and the fact Tomcats and See Spot Run came out weeks apart! ZING!)
Going back for another Heineken, Michael spies a leggy redhead in the casino. She is one of those extras you see in stale casino movies and sitcoms-the trollop who is only interested in high-rolling winners. Even stupider, the men in these scenes always behave like over-the-top, slobbering horndogs. Yeah, I know, but I mean way beyond the usual. And since only the very finest in brainlessness will do for Tomcats, we’re about to see a scene radioed in from the dark side of stupid.
The bartender informs goggle-eyed Michael that Craps Table Hottie™ only goes for high rollers. Of course, next we see Michael at the table with the dice and Craps Table Hottie™ hanging on his shoulder. He’s rolling the dice while a crowd hoots and hollers at the results. I’ve seen this so many times that if Jerry O’Connell wasn’t in the scene, it could have been stock footage from a million sources. The Plot-O-Matic 3000™ hasn’t even broken a sweat with this movie-nor will it as you’ll read-and this made the conspiracy theorist in me wonder if this movie wasn’t made with cutting-room floor rejects that were spliced together at random, a plot computed to tie it together, and finally O’Connell and Co. simply superimposed over it.
Watching the craps proceedings at Michael’s other side is Steve’s wife, Tricia. It goes like this: Michael keeps rolling, losing money, almost passes the dice, gazes over at Craps Table Hottie™ who frowns at his apparent cravenness, his manliness aroused, Michael then yells “I’m going again!” and rolls…losing again. Repeat. Tricia, worried, fetches Steve to rescue him. Steve comes over to talk some sense into the boy. (No, not “Get a better agent.”) But, poor Michael lets his lust get to him and, after Craps Table Hottie™ rubs the dice across her breasts, Michael rolls another snake-eyes. He has lost 52K and then tries to blame the woman for it. Michael can’t pay, so Gino and Vinny from hotel security come and haul Michael and Steve off to face the casino owner. As Michael’s being taken away, he mutters, “No more redheads! No more redheads!”
It’s officially a grudge match! Bring it on! Eva versus the Movie. Never before have I peered over into an abyss so vacant of thought.
“What demon hath form’d this abominable void…this soul shudd’ring vacuum?”
William Blake – The Book of Urizen
Alright, Michael and Steve are unceremoniously dropped into chairs in the high-tech lair of casino boss Carlos. Carlos, his back turned, turns around to reveal…Bill Maher.
That’s the best they could do for a made-to-order cameo? Bill Maher? That’s like a Super Bowl half-time show featuring Kenny G. Where’s Dennis Hopper? Where’s Christopher Walken? I was really hoping somebody fun to watch would show up here, because, Lord knows, the main cast of this dud couldn’t raise the hackles of a Saved By the Bell fan. (*sigh*)
Well, you know what comes next. Carlos plays back the security camera footage proving Michael rolled the bones and lost the money.
Dalton Chortle Alert: As Carlos is flipping through the various security cameras to get to the one showing Michael rolling the dice, we get a quick shot of Tricia (Steve’s wife) in a hotel room making out with another woman. He still denies it, but we clearly heard a snicker from our resident ex-Marine.
Michael doesn’t have 52K. Carlos gives him 30 days to cough up the money or he’s going to do really bad things to Michael. (Why wait? Michael realistically has no chance to raise 52K in 30 days. Why not kill him now? Oh. Right. Because this is, as Ebert calls them, an Idiot Movie. Never mind.) In the meantime, Carlos’ goons are going to take Michael’s stuff piecemeal as collateral. You can almost hear the gears clanking on the Plot-O-Matic3000™ as it churns out this scene.
Michael protests, “But I’m only a cartoonist! I can’t raise 52 thousand dollars!” Wait a minute-Tom “don’t give him any more” Green was a cartoonist in Freddy Got Fingered! It’s all coming back to me…NOOOOOOO!!!
After the flashbacks died down and my eyes focused again, I spy that we’re back in Steve and Tricias’ room. They inform Michael that they can’t help because it’s in the script…er, because they’ve just made a down payment on a house. But maybe Kyle (Gary Busey) can help because he’s (apparently) struck it rich over the last seven years.
So Kyle slithers his way back into this foul mosaic. We find him driving a convertible while on a cell phone. It’s made clear that he’s talking to one of his girlfriends. It’s a relationship talk and evidently there are some histrionics coming in from the feminine end of this call. It seems the woman on the phone is pleading to be exclusive. Kyle gladhandedly agrees with much sugarcoated verbosity. After hanging up, he looks down and says something to the effect that “Your sister is being a pain in the ass!” Up pops a woman into the passenger seat, wiping her chin after apparently completing some off-camera, under-the-dashboard oral ministrations. Oh my Gaia. Nightshade, anyone?
Cut to a golf course and a scene that left me somewhere between nausea and stultifying incredulity. Well, look who else is there. It’s Michael, playing with a group of Japanese golfers. (Who, by the way, are apparently directed by the script to do their best “we rhuv gorf” clueless Japanese tourist routine. Please, make it stop.) Michael cries out to Kyle and the woman he’s with. She’s billed in the credits simply as “Golfing Girl,” because after this revolting episode she is seen nevermore. The “Golfing Girl” is a novice and, as Kyle gropes her from behind, she tries to swing at a ball but misses and throws the club. Boy, Tomcats‘ cache of 40-year-old jokes stripped-mined from better sources certainly isn’t lacking. Stupid Golfing Girl! Ha ha ha! (Could somebody knock me out please? Just spray me in the face with some chloroform.)
Michael joins their group and a golfin’ they all go. What we get, actually, is Kyle and Michael chatting in the golf cart while the woman tries to keep up on foot, staggering as she carries a massive golf bag. Michael suggests a loan to cover his gambling debts. Kyle says he never loans money to friends. They stop suddenly. The woman, panting behind them as she tries to keep up, smashes into the back of the cart. Her head bounces off the canopy before she collapses, the loaded golf bag tumbling down on her. The guys start moving again without a pause in their discussion. Michael, his loan idea rebuffed, asks if there’s anybody Kyle has ever fallen head over heels for. This sudden interest in his love life concerns Kyle. “You’re not going fag on me, are you?” Kyle asks as he whips the golf cart around. Michael assures him he is not. The woman billed as Golfing Girl is teeing up a shot. The guys run her over.
As the axles bounce over the woman, Kyle nonchalantly says that the only girl he’s ever missed was one named Natalie, but he doesn’t know what happened to her. The last time he saw her was at Max’s wedding, seven years before. Meanwhile, in the background, Golfing Girl pops up like a jack-in-the-box, all tousled and with a cartoon-like tire tread painted down the front of her skin-tight mini. “I’m OK!” she shouts with a disheveled smile, grass in her hair. The men ignore her, driving on as Michael plies him for more information about this mysterious notch in Kyle’s bedpost. My limited lexicon makes it difficult to describe just how odious this all is. Welcome to the habitat for inhumanity.
Armed with this tidbit on Kyle’s past, Michael drives to Steve’s new house. Outside we find the Bumbling Pudgy Guy™ watering the lawn. He attempts to wrap the hose up, managing to spray himself in the face and stumble around as he does one of the most painful-to-watch Chris Farley rip-offs (and consider that) I’ve seen. Inside, Michael explains to Steve that Kyle’s apparent only true love was at the wedding seven years ago. He wants to know if this Natalie can be found.
His plan, and the movie’s plot, is to hook Kyle up to get married within a month so he can collect the bachelor pot and pay Carlos off. Unless you flunk blood tests, you can see the plot “twist” right now: Michael and this (still unseen) Natalie will fall in luv. Yeah, it’s that stupid, but this revelation at least tells us what sentence of boredom is being handed down to the viewers. Resolve this knot of ennui and stupidity and the credits will parole us! Wahoo!
Well, Steve doesn’t remember much. Maybe Tricia, who’s been mysteriously absent with the maid for some time, could answer the question. Upstairs they go. Opening the door to the bathroom, Steve sees the shadows of two women playing on the shower screen. The shadows appear to be groping one another.
“Aha! I finally caught you!” Steve yells triumphantly, ripping open the door. Disappointing all the Howard Stern fans in the audience-everybody but yours truly, in other words-we see not a lesbian tryst-in-progress, but rather Tricia and the maid (who’s a Latina of course). They’re cleaning the walk-in shower in positions that, when their shadows are lined up and looked at through the screen, resemble two people necking. So, one of the running gags of this movie is that Tricia is a lesbian but Steve can’t prove it. Eh. It’s hard to pan this stunt as its humor that’s clearly lost on me, but it does seem stale.
Dalton Chortle Alert: This bit got a smile. But as Dalton pointed out-and it’s a good line of reasoning considering the target audience-this movie isn’t delivering the promised naughty goods. There’s very little nudity at all.
Steve does his best flustered Bumbling Pudgy Guy™ as the gals smirk knowingly at each other and then him. Wow, Horatio Sanz is just painfully unfunny. That’s just the bottom line. Anyway, the Sapphic shadow show hilarity past us, Tricia remembers that the mysterious Natalie can be found “on the street.”
So…onto a busy street corner, inhabited by Hollywood’s idea of bad-side-of-town nightlife. Michael walks up to a prostitute. It’s a heavily sleazed-up Shannon Elizabeth, fresh from her exalted appearance in Thirteen Ghosts. Michael says that what he’s about to suggest is kind of weird but that he’s got a proposition. Natalie the Hooker asks if it involves sex. Oh yes, Michael assures her. Not only does it involve sex, Michael informs her with that smirk that makes me want to slap him, but also another guy. And children, a house, and maybe even a dog. See, she thinks (*titter*) he’s implying having sex with another guy, kids, and maybe a dog. But he’s not (*giggle*), he’s just trying to marry her to Kyle. I wanted to reach into the screen and knock their empty skulls together, just to hear that hollow coconut sound like in a cartoon.
This goes on and on until a phalanx of police cars vaults onto the scene. Michael is busted for propositioning for sex. Ah, the plot sickens…Natalie isn’t really a hooker, but rather an undercover cop. Michael gets guns stuck in his face, slammed onto the hood of a car, and cuffed while Natalie and another older cop, Natalie’s boss apparently, call him a “sicko f–k” and so forth.
So, in the next paint-by-numbers scene, we find ourselves reluctantly watching Natalie and the older cop, who the credits dub “Officer Hurley.” (He’s played by Bernie Casey, a good actor from my native West Virginia who should know better) They interrogate Michael in the Movie Interrogation Room that each studio has in cold storage. You know what it looks like-blazing lights with a one-way mirror and no furniture except one uncomfortable chair.
Michael snivels into a tissue as he tries to explain himself, while Natalie and Officer Hurley orbit the chair and yell at him. Jeepers, seeing a pretty-good character actor like Casey work next to Shannon Elizabeth, whose acting ability can be likened to that of a saguaro cactus, really provides a study in contrast. Finally, Michael manages to bleat out his excuse; in essence, he explains the whole wretched plot to this movie. After Michael pukes out this drivel, Officer Hurley gets right in Michael’s face and barks, “That’s the most pathetic f–king s–t I’ve ever heard!”
These words resonate in ways Gregory Poirier never intended.
OK, let’s step back and quickly deconstruct these last few scenes. In order for Michael to walk up to Natalie and actually think she’s a hooker, that means that Tricia and Steve just told Michael what corner Natalie could be found on and when she’d be there-not that she is an undercover cop. In other words, the conversation we saw at Steve’s house ended right were we saw it end, like Michael ran out of the house at that instant. What are the chances of that? Well, realistically zero, but nothing can stop the Plot-O-Matic3000™! It does to movies what Stephen King’s Mangler did to people.
[Editor Ken: If I may interject, you also have to wonder how Tricia would have come by this information. First, even assuming that Tricia and Natalie are dear friends, which itself seems blatantly contrived, how would Tricia know where and when Natalie conducted her undercover prostitution stings? I wouldn’t think that exact information is something you’d share even with a friend. And if Natalie had, wouldn’t she be in trouble? Arresting Michael basically blew the sting — which given the cop cars Eva describes sounds weirdly elaborate — and all because Natalie presumably yakked about her assignments with a civilian.]
Next, consider the street corner conversation between Michael and Natalie. Why didn’t Michael just come up and ask if she was Natalie and, finding she was, tell her the whole story? Why this vague talk of kids and sex? What did they have on Michael to warrant arrest? No money exchanged hands. He didn’t even say exactly what he wanted. I know enough about drug and prostitution stings just from watching COPS to know they didn’t have enough to go for an arrest. Why drag him all the way down to the station for questioning? Didn’t he explain himself at the bust? Well, the answer is…
…whoa, I’m analyzing this celluloid cowpie waaaay too much.
Next, we find ourselves at Michael’s apartment. A couple of Carlos’ goons are carrying out some of his stuff as collateral. This will be a running joke in the movie-see Michael’s pad, see goons carrying out stuff. Whatever. Anyway, Natalie comes by and tells Michael that she’ll agree to marry Kyle for half the money. Michael says OK. Natalie has an ax to grind with Kyle. Apparently, way back when, Natalie lost her maidenhead to Kyle in the backseat of a car and was dumped that very night and forced to walk home, or some such.
They decide to engage in covert surveillance of Kyle. They’re going to try and learn his mating habits or something. (Why?) This “spying on Kyle” diversion provides a rich vein of bore ore for the scriptwriters to mine. The next scene has Michael and Natalie dressed up in ninja-type black garb and face paint. Armed with a passel of high-tech surveillance equipment, they sneak up through to bushes outside Kyle’s house at night.
Apparently, the equipment came from the LAPD, where Natalie works. The script is kind enough to plug this potential plot hole with Natalie stupidly saying something like “Gee, it’s nice I could get this stuff from the police equipment room where I work, huh?” Why the scriptwriter bothered inserting moronic comments like this to plug small plot leaks when the whole movie is going down like the Edmund Fitzgerald is beyond me. There’s also the usual pratfalls we’ve come to expect in movies like this: Michael blinds himself with the light-amplification goggles, Michael breaks the expensive night scope, Michael stumbles around in the bushes, and on and on. Inside, we see Kyle putting the moves on yet another typical Tomcats woman-another tart in a skintight cocktail dress who might as well have “Orgasm Donor” stamped on her forehead.
Continuing to boldly go nowhere, we cut to the following day. Natalie and Michael tail Kyle to an outdoor cafÃˆ. While they spy, we’re treated to some painful nuance-filled romantic prattle as Michael discovers he’s beginning to ((*yawn*)) fall in love with Natalie. (Can I call ’em or what?)
Michael’s undercover mission continues in a sauna where suddenly…nothing happens again. Kyle, Michael and Steve are soaking up some steam. Michael, however, is not bare-chested like the others, but rather has a bathrobe on. (It’s obvious he’s hiding something.) He questions Kyle a bit more about his love life and women in general. Kyle sneers that he’s not the least bit interested in “one of those feminist bitches.” Uppity strumpets! That’ll show ’em!
Steve and Kyle eventually leave. Michael opens up his robe to reveal a 70’s vintage cassette tape recorder duct-taped to his chest, so as to record all this oh-so-important dialogue. (Why not use some of that high-tech stuff from the LAPD?) When he hits the off bottom, the recorder shorts and electrocutes him, leaving him twitching as cartoonish bolts of blue electricity dance over him. (Oh, that’s why.) Where did Poirier get these gags? From archeologists who found them scrawled in cuneiform unearthed from Ur? Seriously, you could radiocarbon date these ‘jokes.’
And it just keeps going! Next we find Michael and Kyle at the gym wrapping up a run on the indoor track. Still pestering Kyle with empty queries about his dating, such as whether or not Kyle likes the woman to make the first move and so forth, Michael elicits a flashback as Kyle fondly recalls a carnal encounter in the back seat of a car. A drunk young lady in a Catholic school uniform, billed as “Barfing Girl” in the credits, sticks her head out the backseat window of a car and vomits in the direction of the camera. Laughing yet? No? Well, as she’s retching, Kyle pops up behind her and begins coitus using the canine technique as he describes in graphic detail how the girl’s violent stomach evacuations are making the sensations so much more…uh…gripping.
(scratchy drive-thru static:) “Ah…yeah, I’d like an order of appalling bathroom humor with…um…a side of sickening misogyny…make that a large side…oh heck, just Super-Size it!”
So, armed with this enlightening information, we follow Michael as he arrives back at his flat. Outside, the casino thugs are preparing to tow his car. Michael yells that they can’t take his car. One of the goons then takes his cell phone. Michael grabs back the phone. It rings.
“Michael, it’s Carlos. Give him back the phone. You’ve got three weeks.”
Michael reluctantly gives back the phone.
Dalton Chortle Alert: This phone exchange got a small chuckle and proved to be the last in Tomcats’ tour de course. So the tally: No laughs from the women, three rather mild guffaws from the man. Sad.
What follows is a completely unnecessary, weird, and yet sublimely awful scene. At a seaside seafood restaurant, Michael meets up with the old “Tomcats” crowd from seven years ago. They’re all married with children ranging from newborns up to five or so. A couple of the wives are heavily pregnant. (Oh no. Please God, no. Not again. Anything but that.) Here the movie actually does successfully mimic real life in one sense as the selfish parents let their kids run around, cry, scream, and throw things, just like a lot of real breeders in real restaurants. Anyhow, Michael starts having these hallucinations as he sits at the long table surrounded by howling tykes and mollycoddling parents. He looks over at Max with a screaming kid on his lap.
Max grimaces at him and says, “Please kill me!”
“What?” Michael stammers as he shakes his head and refocuses his eyes.
Max rolls his eyes. “I said ‘Pass the Mahi-mahi’!”
Alas, that’s just a warm-up, because then, truly unencumbered by taste, Gregory Poirier is kind enough to have Michael watch in horror (at last, an emotion we share!) as one man reaches over to a woman’s exposed breast and squeezes some milk into his coffee. Blinking and looking again, he sees the other guy is actually just reaching for a coffee creamer.
There’s some more screaming and running around. Then, because fate hates me, somebody’s water breaks and one of the women goes into labor! There’s much stickiness and screaming. Michael freaks out and runs.
And that’s it for that segment.
What? Any ideas? I don’t know. I think they were trying to highlight Michael’s aversion to marriage and (especially) children. On the other hand, if they were trying to convince me that Michael had realized how “shallow” and “selfish” he was being because of his unattached bachelor, childfree status, then I got a (yet another) bone to pick. Michael is a jerk aside of the fact he’s unmarried and childless. If anything, this stupid bit highlighted bad parent behavior. Either way, though, what did this scene have to do with anything? I want this stinker over.
Okay, whatever. So Natalie and Michael are walking on the beach. Natalie inquires about Michael’s freakout in the restaurant. He replies with…well, some witticism but I couldn’t hear it because my fingers were stuck two knuckles deep in my ears. (It wasn’t made clear to me whether Michael just hallucinated the whole thing or if there was really birth.) But, because loud, sappy music is playing over the splashing of the nighttime surf, we know where this scene is going. Mr. Smoothy asks if Natalie knows how to play the ‘mercy’ hand game.
Everybody remember this childhood brutality? You grasp hands and try to outmuscle the other person. The winner (i.e. my younger sister) is the one who forces the loser (i.e. me) into saying ‘mercy’ first…or any other embarrassing things the victor would like the vanquished to cry out before release. (As I recall, the rules always seemed to change halfway through the contest, but I’m not bitter. Really.) So they play mercy with Michael easily overpowering Natalie and both of them falling back onto the sand in an embrace. Michael almost kisses her, but can’t bring himself to say “I love you” so he backs off. Thus ends the make-out scene.
Next we see Michael alone, cursing to himself because he’s falling in love with Natalie and can’t say “I love you” and not following the code of the Tomcats and so on. This is baloney. Any player-or ‘tomcat’ in this movie’s parlance-can say “I love you” a hundred times a second if it’ll score the booty. And the Michael we’ve seen so far, the one who bragged of casual sex with twins, has conducted himself like a rutting barnyard animal.
This is one of the hallmarks of the Plot-O-Matic 3000: inconsistent character motivations. You find this when directors shoehorn already two-dimensional caricatures into stock scenes the scriptwriter dreamed up and pieced together instead of bothering to write a consistent, two-hour story. Treading more water, the thugs come by and take more stuff from Michael’s near empty pad. Wow, look everybody! The hands on my watch are moving backwards!
But if you thought the restaurant scene was weird and offensive, hang on to your Carpenters’ albums, because we’ve only just begun. Natalie and Officer Turley are shown approaching a run-down house with guns drawn. No other officers are in sight; they’re going to take down this crackhouse alone. But the joke is, while they’re running around inside the cobweb-filled hovel, gunning grubby-looking blacks and Latinos down, they chat about Natalie’s personal life, her relationship with Michael, and the nature of love itself. Isn’t this a scream? There they are, holed up behind an old sofa with bullets flying all around, while Natalie wonders if she’ll ever find true happiness and solve her relationship woes and Officer Turley provides fatherly advice.
After a pause, they unload their clips into the chest of a gun-waving Latino who goes down in a blood-soaked heap. Well, maybe under Michael’s Devil-may-care attitude is a sensitive guy who just needs a chance, Natalie ponders aloud as she sends a black dope dealer to Valhalla with a hail of slugs ripping through his torso. Officer Turley concurs sympathetically as he shoots a Rasta-looking guy through the head, bone and brains flying, and helps cuff the one bullet-riddled guy the dynamic duo takes alive. The wounded suspect, for a bit of further comedy, overhears the conversation and offers his own take on Natalie’s love life. Ho ho. Pass the Dramamine.
On we go! In a mall, we find Kyle and Michael strolling around the perfume counter. Hey look! It’s Natalie working behind the counter, pretending to be a perfume hustler. Michael ‘slyly’ introduces them, asking her name. Your name is Natalie, huh? Golly Kyle, didn’t we know a Natalie way back when. Well, gee, Michael, I think we did! Oh, you must be Kyle-I’m Natalie, remember? The dialogue here had me wincing and twitching like an epileptic demophobe at a crowded strobe light convention. They get reacquainted.
Then it’s back to the beach. This time it’s Kyle and Natalie who are walking hand-in-hand on the sand. While Natalie is wooing Kyle, Michael is watching from the cliff face high above them. This cliff scene is supposed to be a parody of Tom Cruise’s rock-climbing sequence to open Mission:Impossible 2. Except here we see Michael clumsily climbing around and mugging for the camera as he barely hangs on. Finally, he takes a long fall into the sand. Thud.
And then it’s back to the bushes outside Kyle’s window for another round of Peeping Michael. I feel like I’m watching this movie in reverse. Natalie and Kyle are exchanging awful “provocative” banter and batting eyelashes as jealous Michael gets agitated. Natalie preens for the window, then, in order to make Michael more envious, closes the window blinds and turns off the hidden microphone she’s carrying. (Don’t ask me why they’re still playing out this high-tech spy-on-Kyle thing.) Michael’s beside himself, shouting for her to leave before this goes to the bedroom.
Then, in a scene that made me wish Noah’s Ark had met The Perfect Storm, we see just that. In Kyle’s tacky passion pit, we’re treated to this badly-acted, third-rate Lothorio putting the moves on Natalie. Kyle strips down to a thong (!) and shakes his jiggly heinie for the camera (!!), slapping his hind-quarters (!!!) and shouting “Come and ride the wild pony!” (I. Want. To. Die!) Natalie coyly says that she’s not going to have sex with him, but that he can masturbate. Throwing him a bottle of lubricant, she leaves. Then, we see lust-crazed Kyle settle on the bed, squirt some gel onto his (thank God in Heaven) off-camera johnson, and cry happily, “I am going to hurt you tonight!” before he…
….have you ever got halfway through a sentence and found yourself unable to believe that you were actually typing it?
[Editor Ken: Fairly often, actually.]
Natalie and Michael meet in a library the next day. I honestly can’t remember why, or if there was even a reason given, they meet in this location. I apologize, but my notes are vague as I was approaching catatonia at this point. Anyhow, Natalie says that she’s really falling for Kyle, that under that awful exterior is a really nice guy. She leaves. A despondent Michael finds his way to the men’s bathroom, where he gives himself a corny pep-talk in the mirror. He’s not going to fall for Natalie! He’s a Tomcat, dammit! He don’t need no stinkin’ relationships! And so on and on, ending with, “I’m going out there and I’m going to have sex with the first woman I see!” Yesiree, there you have it, straight from the horse’s ass.
Stalking back out through the library, Michael prowls among the stacks muttering, “The first woman I see…the first woman I see…” Dear reader, can you guess what the first woman he’s sees is going to look like? You can? Oh, you must be smarter than a chimpanzee. Bingo! Rounding a corner, Michael almost runs into an obese woman, who, of course, smiles at him with a saucy twinkle in her eyes.
“OK, the second woman I see,” Michael says as he turns 180∫. Rounding another corner, he spies…granny glasses, hair up in tight bun, long skirt-yes, it’s Sexually Repressed Librarian™! “This is too easy,” Gregory Poirier says smugly to himself. Whoops, Michael says that. Sorry. Approaching, Michael easily ingratiates himself with the stammering, book-clutching, downcast-eyed SRL™, whose name is Jill. This leads to a date, which thankfully we don’t see. Instead, we cut to Jill thanking Michael for the dinner and movie as they approach her residence, a sedate house with a picket fence. She works up the nerve to ask him in. He pretends to consider it, and then says, “Oh…alright, I suppose.” Inside, we meet her grandmother, “Grammie,” who does a pretty convincing acting job of a feeble elderly lady. After an excruciating tea-and-cookies sequence, “Grammie” falls asleep in her chair and Michael and Jill adjourn quietly to her boudoir.
It’s a girlie-girl bedroom, filled with music-boxes and stuffed animals and such. Flying along without a hitch, the auto-plot turns repressed Jill the SRL™ into a hungry nympho once the door closes behind them. Off come the glasses, down comes the long red hair. While making out on the bed, she idly takes Michael’s wrist and puts it through the paws of a teddy bear mounted on the headboard. The bear’s paws are really restraints is disguise. She does the other wrist. Oh, my. She’s really some kind of bondage weirdo…because all sexually repressed librarians are, I suppose.
And away we go! The lights turn from white to red. The windows and doors seal themselves electronically. And then the entire back wall of the bedroom slides aside to reveal a vast array of bondage paraphernalia neatly hanging on the wall. Panels and mirrors glide this way and that. The bed moves away and Michael is left hanging with his arms outstretched. It’s like the secret Nazi base in Raiders of the Lost Ark meets a game-show set-The Price is Reich maybe. Hmm, from what I saw on the outside, this room is now too big to be part of a regular house. Whatever. As this is going on, Jill strips off her staid dress and reveals some kind of skimpy leather teddy. She prattles on in a sexy voice about how she’s going to punish Michael for not taking books seriously enough. She actually starts meowing like a cat into his ear after gagging him.
As if this sequence wasn’t already as ugly as homemade sin, guess who else shambles into view, clad her own skintight black leather teddy? Oh no, you say? Oh yes! It’s “Grammie,” armed with a paddle. She has lust in her eyes and licks her lips before letting fly with a “Heeeere’s Grammie!” The camera really gives us a good, long look at the doddering dominatrix. This is just awful. Why did I say I’d do this? Can I just review just two-thirds of the movie and turn this off now? Hey Dalton, when you’re done hiding in the kitchen, could you bring me a Diet Coke, please? One of them picks up a paddle so big it looks like it belongs in a canoe. On the business end is a big red letter ‘A.’ (Get it? Ho ho) Michael gets whacked with it, which, taken out of context, would be satisfying to see.
Michael is then seen bolting from the house, sputtering to himself, “No more redheads! No more redheads!” I love you too, Gregory. This round of awful sexual humor done, the movie veers back to the grossout humor. And what a better place to start than the men’s locker room at the gym. Kyle and Michael stand before a row of sinks. Kyle mentions that one of his testicles is swollen and sore and asks Michael to check it out. Michael (thankfully) declines. But, hey, Steve is a proctologist! (Oh, brother) Let’s go ask him! Kyle and Michael agree to consult Steve. As Michael’s walking away, the towel drops and, just before my eyes closed reflexively, I saw a big red ‘A’ on his butt. Ugh. I picked the wrong week to quit potassium cyanide.
Steve’s office. There’s something about seeing Horatio Sanz in a white lab coat that doesn’t inspire confidence. He’s not too interested in seeing Kyle’s testicle either, but suggests another doctor. Michael wants to know where Tricia is. (Remember? Steve’s wife? Who just happens to be a nurse in the same ward and whose only purpose in this movie is to provide faux-lesbian shadow-puppetry? Yeah, her.) Well, under the theory that jokes get funnier the more times they’re repeated, we get another one of those scenes with Steve throwing back a curtain to find Tricia and another woman…tidying up a room. Again. Veni vedi soma.
So now we go on to the urologist, Dr. Crawford. Somebody get out the Hallowed Tome of Embarrassed Actors because it’s time to pencil in the name of one David Ogden Stiers (!) standing out here like an above 80 IQ in the Florida State student section at a football game. (Go Terps!) Well, the tests have come back and, yes, Kyle has testicular cancer. Dr. Crawford decides to have a little fun with the boys (or, should I say men-who-act-like-boys?) When he’s describing the surgery, he dramatically tells how painful it’s going to be, complete with graphic depictions of things getting ripped off and so forth.
Stiers actually does a good job here, a performance further highlighted by the hacks around him; I thought for 20 seconds I was watching an actual movie. But Poirier & Co. were kind enough to snap me out of my reverie by having the camera pan back over the Kyle, Michael, and Steve at the conclusion of Stiers explicit description. In unison, they cross their legs uncomfortably. Tomcats is consistent if nothing else; every thirty seconds-at the most-it reminds you that you’re watching a terrible movie filled with shopworn comedy. After scaring them, Dr. Crawford smiles and says that the procedure to remove the cancerous testicle is actually painless and quick.
So, Kyle needs to make a donation at a sperm bank before the operation. He convinces Michael to do the same because…like, it’s in the script. Both grab sample cups and go to their separate rooms to…well, you know. Luckily, instead of seeing the actual process, there is a dream sequence parodying the rose petal scene in American Beauty while Michael floats in bliss thinking of Natalie.
Well OK, I’ll admit this scene wasn’t perfectly awful. But since everything tends to balance out, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. (And it will, believe me.) As the dunderheaded duo leaves, Kyle hands the nurse a sample container that’s about a third full. (The audience can tell because the sample jar is transparent. Thanks again, Gregory.) The nurse is unimpressed. Michael, looking wrung out, hands the nurse three full sample jars. Just. Plain. Icky. I guess this is to prove how wrapped up he is in Natalie, but it’s just another brick in the disgusting, slime covered wall that is this movie’s plot.
Kyle’s hospital room. He’s recovering from surgery with Natalie and Michael by his side. He begs Michael to go and find the removed testicle. It means so much to him. After some cajoling, Michael agrees to the mission and thus one of the worst scenes to ever happen to me is set in motion.
Soooo…Michael starts to creep around the hospital. Of course, it doesn’t take long for him to find the Room of Removed Organs that occasionally crops ups in hospital scenes. This is the room with shelves covered with lots of jars filled with formaldehyde and eyes and hearts and such. There’s the usual Freaking Out at the Sight of Gross Organs eye-bugging before Michael finds the jar with the enlarged testicle floating inside. An orderly suddenly opens the door, startling Michael so that he drops the jar and the testicle rolls away. Trying to chase it down, he kicks it out into the hall. (Oh, my head). Who knew that a cancerous testicle could bounce around like one of those rubber superballs in the gumball machines next to the door at Safeway. This leads to a merry chase through the hospital, with Michael almost reaching the testicle only to have someone step on it and send it squirting down another hall like a racquet ball. Michael chases it. Then someone kicks it again. This seems to go on interminably-watching it is like getting a root canal performed on a Tilt-A-Whirl.
Finally, the testicle flies down a stairwell and lands on a tray of pastries. (Oh no. Please no.) Running down the stairs, Michael sees the pastry tray get rolled into a crowded cafeteria. (Please no. Please!) Therein, he rushes up and tries to take the pastry tray. The pastry chef begins to wrestle him for said tray. Does Michael explain himself? No. Does the pastry chef back off and call security? No. The scriptmonster dictates they have to struggle so that the testicle can fly across the room and land (Pleeeease no!) on the plate of Dr. Crawford (David Ogden Stiers), who just happens to be eating plums. He picks it up without looking. No! Don’t do it! All those happy childhood years of M*A*S*H on Nickelodeon! Please stop! Think of the children! Don’t…!
(“Why God? Why hast thou forsaken me?!” Eva reaches up to the heavens with a gaze of hollow anguish, looking like Burne-Jones’ Hope)
OK, after a couple of sessions my therapist and I worked through what happened here and it goes something like this. Distracted by conversation, Dr. Crawford inadvertently reaches over, grabs the testicle, and in a loving close up, bites right in like he’s wolfing down a juicy sour apple.
Michael, as he beats a hasty retreat, grabs a walnut from the cafeteria. Slipping it into a jar, he goes back to Kyle’s room in the hospital and gives it to him. Kyle and Natalie look at it and believe it to be his dearly departed testicle! What?! It’s a walnut! Everybody knows what a walnut looks like. Your brain would have to be as small as one to fall for this. Good grief.
Well, after telling Michael what a good friend he is, Kyle informs him that “Having sex with every woman in the world is all on you now!” because Natalie and Kyle are going to get married in a couple of days. (Quick engagement, huh?) Michael, whose life has just been saved because the bachelor pot is now coming his way, is instead unhappy because he has lost Natalie. (Beats a painful death, I’d say. But what do I know?)
He’s so sad, in fact, that next comes what I think is the most unrealistic dream sequence I’ve every rolled my eyes through. Michael is in the sack with a yet another of this movie’s inexhaustible supply of bimbos. At the foot of the bed is a line of women stretching out the door. You see, he’s dreaming about having sex with all the women in the world but it’s really a nightmare because the women are fighting over their place in line and all the sex is just too overwhelming. Right. Some nightmare. I guess this is to make us feel that Michael is now all sensitive. As an aside, all the women have on different types of (sort of) clothes. Let’s see…there’s the bikini girl, the lingerie girl, the girl in a micro-mini, some blonde sporting the latest Fall fashions from the Brass Pole collection, and-of course-the cheerleader.
Now it’s on to Kyle’s bachelor party and another opportunity to for me to choke on my own bile. The wedding is on for 9:00 am tomorrow morning at the county courthouse and all the Tomcats are boozing it up with a bevy of scantily-clad tramps, all except poor Michael who is sulking on a couch and getting a drunk on. One woman in the corner, surrounded (and thankfully screened from view) by laughing and cheering men, is apparently sticking things inside body cavities and then shooting them across the room. You hear a canned “squirt” sound effect, a hearty cheer goes up, and something like a ping pong or pool ball bounces by.
Steve bumbles over and tries to entice Michael to join the fun. Morose Michael declines. (Squirt! Huzzah! There goes a tennis ball!) Kyle then slithers over and says he’s decided to keep right on having sex with whomever he pleases. Another throaty cheer goes up and a football lands in Michael’s hands. Realizing where it came from, he tosses it away with a disgusted look, (which is what Columbia should have done with Poirier’s script). Finally, Michael, in what passes for the Oscar Scene in this flick, drunkenly professes his love for Natalie and says he’s going to stop the wedding, dammit! Then he passes out. I’ll just say this: if scenes of failed and disgusting humor can seemingly last longer than geologic time periods, than this movie is the extended dance remix of the entire Jurassic.
Waking up the next morning amidst scattered party detritus, Michael discovers he only has minutes to get to the courthouse and stop the wedding. But (*snigger*) he can’t find his pants. So, tossing on the only thing he can find over his boxers-a woman’s fur coat-he sprints out of the house. Running through a park, he stumbles through some back door and winds up before a gathering of…wait for it…animal rights activists! They mob him with spray paint cans and invective. Oh my goodness! Whatever will Michael do? Never fear Eva, because where there’s a will, there’s a clichÃˆ, and as the mob shouts and screams, Michael manages to crawl out from under the scrum and slink away without anybody noticing. (This never happens in real life. Have you ever seen a football pileup end with the guy with the ball stealthily crawling away while the pile keeps on fighting? The answer is no. It never happens.)
Running across a playground, a little girl playing in a sandbox sees him in his scary attire and starts to cry. He rushes over and tries to explain himself (because crying three-year-olds are renown for their negotiation skills), but on his approach, she starts to scream. Well, everybody looks now, including the beat cop conveniently placed across the playground. He looks up to see this boxer short- wearing nimrod in drag bending over the little girl and thinks Michael’s a sex fiend. This misunderstanding starts another zany chase wherein the fat woman from the library makes another amorous appearance. Did the focus groups laugh at this? Did they laugh again when the same joke is played again? And again?
Interspersed through Michael’s panicked trek are scenes from Kyle’s wedding at the courthouse. Not too much to say here except the preacher is a stereotypically bitter old guy who goes on how women have cheated him his whole life. And he swears a lot, because, like, it’s really funny when old people swear. Back the camera goes to Michael, as he runs across crowded streets and does the bounce-off-the-hoods-of-cars thing.
FINALLY making it to the courthouse, he runs up the stairs and sees the preacher just about to announce a couple man and wife. Yelling “Stop the wedding!” Michael is shocked when-better sit down because this will floor you with surprise-the couple turns around and lo! it isn’t Kyle and Natalie but rather the next couple on the nuptial docket. Whodathunkit? Michael is a disheveled spectacle, a sweaty, hungover, spray-painted drag queen, and the bride stomps away angrily as the groom follows after her, pleading to her that Michael isn’t his old gay lover and that he really did leave that scene behind to marry her.
Back in the casino, we see Michael paying off Carlos. Carlos wonders aloud how Michael got the money. Michael sadly says he sold his soul. (Again I ask, would you rather be dead? What good would getting Natalie be if you wound up getting killed? Oh, who cares.)
So…it’s now a couple of days later and Michael bumps into Kyle on the street. Out of the blue, Kyle bops him in the face. Recovering, Michael inquires why. Kyle is puzzled. He explains that Natalie annulled the wedding right after and Kyle thought Michael and Natalie were in on a deal. (Gee! Do ya think?) Michael acts stupid about it-an easy task-and they make up. (Geez! Talk about a lazy way to tie up a loose end in the plot! Wow!) Kyle shows Michael a book he has, The Scarlet Letter. He got it from “some little redhead.” Michael smirks and says “That book will change your life!” Then he’s off to find Natalie.
You mean this movie is still going? We gotta have a make-up scene with Natalie and Michael? I guess we knew it was coming but…crud. Oh, alright…this takes less than five minutes of movie time so I’m only giving it five seconds of my time. Michael goes and finds Natalie working “on the street” in her undercover capacity…blah blah blah…Michael gets all bleary-eyed and they make up…yadda yadda yadda…beaches, maudlin music, proposals…blah blah blah…a betrothal and kiss…fade to black…
OK, so now can the names of Those Responsible crawl up the screen?
Nope, it’s still not over. Just as I was reaching to eject this foul disc of despair from my dissed DVD player, Kyle is shown trussed up at the librarian’s bondage parlor. She’s strutting around in another tight leather outfit with a book and a whip in either hand. Out from the shadows comes Grammie, equipped with some kind of a harness around her waist that…ah…allows a woman to provide…um…manly services, if you follow. She runs up behind Kyle and, with a rebel yell, goes in through the out door. (Did I type that out loud?) Kyle lets out an anguished howl of his own, almost as loud as the ones echoing off the walls of my apartment at this point, but then smirks into the camera and says “Heeey!” like he’s enjoying it. Fade to black….
…that’s it, right? Please?
Nope. It’s still not over. This movie comes back more than the love child of Sigourney Weaver’s nemesis in Alien and Freddy Krueger. Steve walks in on another lesbian shadow puppet show. “Ah ha! I caught you!” he yells as he pulls back the screen. This time, however, Tricia really is making out with another woman. Gag. (Note to horndogs: there’s not much to see.) Steve is disgusted. “Gross! You’re just a couple of…dirty birdies!” he sputters. (He didn’t really just say “dirty birdies” did he? Geez mon.) Giving Steve her best blonde “come-hither” look, Tricia asks if he’d like to join in, because, after all, that’s what all lesbians really want men to do. Steve’s grimace transforms into a grin like a kid who has just been told the circus is back in town. He strips down and hustles on over. Fade to black.
This proves, at long last, to be the final sequence, but I guess it’s better to have a horrible ending than horrors without end. Actually, in a way, it’s still not over because as the credits run, “funny” outtakes play. I didn’t watch any of these. I didn’t care anymore. It’s done! Over! I feel like I just walked out of prison. Yippee!
“Die one minute and dance the next.”
-Alexsandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Didn’t W.C. Fields once say, “I’d rather be dead than watching Tomcats?”
[Editor Ken: No, he didn’t.]
Well, he should have because -wow- this movie sucked like a singularity.
Even if you watch it at home, like I did, this is a flick so bad you’ll wish you had a screaming baby on one side, a cell phone dorkus on the other, and behind you one of those guys who thinks it’s quieter to open his crinkly Twizzlers wrapper really slowly. Tomcats‘ tagline is “The last man standing gets the kitty!” but I think “Through me the way into grief eternal” would be more to the point. Really, this is Hell’s in-flight movie-so staggeringly loathsome you just can’t wait to land at Hades International and begin pushing your boulder up the hill for all eternity.
Everything, everybody, every action, every plot oxbow in this movie is a completely predicable clichÃˆ or stereotype. You can’t watch this thing for ten seconds at a time and-as a rational human being-not be reminded you’re staring vacantly at frame after frame of pure, arrogant mindlessness. After awhile it makes you angry. And that anger fuses with the fury caused by the unbelievable misogyny, the annoyance with yourself for paying money to see it-even to review it, and the despondency rooted in knowing that some adults (R-rating, don’t forget) will like it. It’s unhealthy. I’m done with movies of this sort forever, even in a critical capacity. Stupid I can take, but not this nastiness. No more.
What makes this movie even worse is that the characters are supposed to be in their late-20s/early-30s. The actors/actresses are around 30 as well. Watching teenagers engaged in this awful plot would still make for a really bad movie, but what helps put it on Jabootu’s radar is the age of these characters, which amplifies the idiocy to earsplitting levels. It’s like seeing your father hanging out at a Blink 182 concert, decked out in faux Gap radness, hurting his back stage-diving, and trying to be cool with the skate rats.
My previous rant at the end of my Freddy Got Fingered blather also applies here. I’ll rehash briefly. In the past, I avoided grossout movies like the plague, which incidentally is appropriately descriptive. However, unlike the plague, this movie does not conclude with the sweet, welcome kiss of death. Actually, this movie never seems to end at all, which leads me to recommend to anyone reading this discourse: Get the plague first! It’s not grossness so much as the insulting stupidity the makers attribute to the audience. Clever comedies are rare, and a director of one-particularly one who targets young people-who thinks his audience isn’t filled with idiots is even rarer. Maybe they’re right. Maybe people are stupider these days. The whole thing is depressing.
Movies like this are supposed to promise “racy” fun. Maybe the movie stinks, but they’ll be lots of skin to provide eye-candy, one theory goes. I say Tomcats failed here as well. Sure, it’s R-rated, but it didn’t push the R-rated nudity envelope. For the guys, don’t expect any Shannon Elizabeth skin, or any other full-blown nudity either. If memory serves, it’s all brief topless stuff. As for the ladies…we learn that Jake Busey needs a Stairmaster. ‘Nuff said.
Finally, I think Tomcats falls into another category of badly-flawed flicks that I call, for want of a better term, “House of Cards” movies. These are movies based on one plot point that, when exploded by reality, collapses the whole story. For example, Waterworld is flushed when you realize that, according to scientists, if the icecaps really melted, sea level would only rise 77 meters. End of movie. Another is Die Hard 2, that croaks painfully when one considers that jets, upon losing contact with Dulles tower, would simply land at Reagan or BWI when their fuel ran low. End of movie. Tomcats is roadkill when you realize loansharking is illegal and all Michael has to do is go to the cops with some videotape of the thugs absconding with his stuff, or a recording of Carlos threatening him on the phone. End of movie…unless you believe he’s too stupid to do that. Is he? Well, the answer is…
…whoa, I’m analyzing this celluloid cowpie waaaay too much.
THE CRITICS RAVE:
“Gregory Poirier-you know who you are, Gregory-wrote and directed this mean-spirited, juvenile, disgusting, endlessly annoying movie. I hope his mother never sees it. A woman should never have to know that she spawned a child who actually thought that the sight of a diseased testicle being kicked around hospital corridors would entertain people.
Gregory Poirier. He should be ashamed of himself.”
Mary Ann Johanson – The Flick Filosopher
“I walked out of Tomcats after about an hour. I had had enough…I refuse to believe that anything they threw up on the screen during the last half hour could in any way atone for the preceding one.” “
Rob Morline – Manatee Magazine
“All sex comedies have scenes in which characters are embarrassed, but I can’t remember one in which women are so consistently and venomously humiliated, as if they were some kind of hateful plague.”
Roger Ebert – Chicago Sun-Times
“Tomcats is a godawful hell-wreck of a film, utterly meritless, clueless, and sloppy all the way down the line. As far as grossout comedies go, this one takes the proverbial cake, slathers it with a heaping helping of frat-boy misogyny, and then has the cojones to be equal parts stultifyingly dull and wearyingly unfunny. It is a comic nadir, the stanky green crust caking the bottom of the well of titters.”
Marc Savlov – Austin Chronicle
“Tomcats is my pick for the worst movie of the year.”
Richard Roeper — Ebert & Roeper