Sweetest Thing (2002)
Most of the film's comic incidents attempt to make the viewer laugh at the discomfort, pain, or humiliation of one or another of its characters. Jane, in particular, is treated cruelly throughout, and the viewer is given one opportunity after another to enjoy watching her suffer. In one scene, for instance, he gets to see her writhe in discomfort when she takes a dress stained with her boyfriend's semen to a dry cleaner, only to be met there by a mob of persons who know both her and her parents. In another, he is allowed the pleasure of seeing her utterly humiliated when the same man's penis becomes lodged in her mouth while she is performing oral sex on him, and, in a third scene, he is presented with the spectacle of her indulging in recklessly exuberant sexual intercourse with the man at her workplace while the latter is dressed in an elephant costume. The poor woman hardly appears on screen without being made into an object of derision. I will concede that the sufferings of others have always been a mainstay of comedy, and some of the routines centered on Jane in The Sweetest Thing are funny, but others are just so cruel that it is difficult for the viewer not to feel sorry for the woman.
Sadly, Jane is the only character in the film who is even slightly likeable. Her two friends, Christina and Courtney, are such manipulative, nasty, hateful creatures that the moviegoer cannot help but detest them. Perhaps the director could have built an entertaining comedy around two such horrid individuals, certainly other directors have turned nasty characters into great sources of comedy, but, for reasons that I cannot fathom, Kumble attempts to make the viewer sympathize with the two. Unfortunately, they are just so unpleasant that the viewer is only able to feel contempt and dislike for them. The film, consequently, always keeps the moviegoer distant from its characters and prevents him from engaging with them.
Even had he been able to make the viewer sympathize with his characters, Kumble still would have failed to create a good movie, however. The Sweetest Thing simply is not very funny. There are a couple of successful comic routines in the film, but most of the director's efforts to arouse the viewer's mirth either seem forced or just make him feel sorry for whichever character is being made to suffer in order to produce a laugh.
The Sweetest Thing is a dull, uninspired, unfunny, and mean-spirited film that is, frankly, best avoided.
Review by Keith Allen
© 2005 firstname.lastname@example.org Keith Allen. All rights reserved.