More Sour Than Sweet

Talk about good sports. Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair are asked to humiliate themselves many times over in "The Sweetest Thing," and they do it with such game good spirits that they ought to get the actor's equivalent of a Purple Heart. A sub-Farrelly gross-out comedy for guys that masquerades as a chick flick, this crass romantic comedy follows the amorous and erotic misadventures of three single San Francisco roomies. Any comparison to "Sex and the City" is entirely unearned: there is more wit and comic savvy in any two minutes of the HBO show than in all of Nancy M. Pimental's clumsy script.

Commitment-phobic good-time girl Christina Walters (Diaz) is thrown off her stride when she falls for the charming Peter (Thomas Jane) at a club. "The Sweetest Thing" shows some charm initially, but the minute Christina and her pal Courtney (Applegate) hit the road in pursuit of Peter, director Roger ("Cruel Intentions") Kumble's movie abandons all sense for scatology, maggots and strained, amateurishly executed slapstick about urinals and oral sex. The movie is R-rated, which means that those who might laugh at these jokes will have to sneak in. Still, Diaz proves once again that she can make the most superficial ditz surprisingly sympathetic, and a very grown-up Applegate shows a wry, deadpan comic finesse that is much better than the material deserves. The filmmakers have obviously studied "There's Something About Mary," and learned nothing.

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