Once, the idea of putting men in drag on screen opened up not just the obvious comic possibilities but dramatic ones, too. There's the strange and exotic bond with women; the possibility that men in drag will attract other men, who may or may not be aware of the actual situation; the underscoring of sexual polarization, roles and undercurrents.
How far we've fallen since "Some Like It Hot" and "Tootsie." Now, so much lowbrow comedy routinely features men in drag - a lazy shortcut both to vulgar guffaws and pat sensitivity. The latest entry into this field is the over-the-top "Sorority Boys," a comedy that lazily cribs from both the Tom Hanks sitcom "Bosom Buddies" and the movie "Mrs. Doubtfire" and blatantly rips off the far more sophisticated and clever "Tootsie."
"Sorority Boys" is a frat-house, toilet-humor comedy that makes "Animal House" seem wholesome. The boys' fraternity carries the acronym KOK, pronounced the way it's spelled. The boys get wasted, indulge in porn and all manner of sexual hijinks, including harassing a sorority of misfit girls. (Their house is named DOG; nothing is too subtle in this movie.) One of the routine pranks is for the guys to throw large vibrators through the sorority house windows. Seeking revenge after they've unjustly been thrown out of their fraternity, these potty-mouthed Three Stooges don women's garb and hide out at DOG while they hatch a plan. Of course, the convoluted plot is just a pretext to get the guys into wigs and heels and to get them to bond with the women, feel their pain and become better men. The girls of DOG are portrayed as feminists raging against sexism who just aren't pretty or slender enough to attract men. The girls include a "giant" and a French student with facial hair.
Transformed by a long black wig, Dave (Barry Watson) wins the affection of the straitlaced Leah, the head of DOG. Without her glasses, Leah showers with "Daisy" and invites "her" to a girly sleep over. The situations and jokes are as predictable and as lowbrow as the endless pratfalls the boys take in their high heels. But what can one expect from a movie whose idea of humor is to have a male character called "Big Johnson"?
1 1/2 stars
Directed by Wally Wolodarsky; written by Joe Jarvis and Greg Coolidge; photographed by Michael D. O'Shea; edited by Richard Halsey; production designed by Edward T. McAvoy; music by Mark Mothersbaugh; produced by Larry Brezner, Walter Hamada. A Touchstone Pictures release; opens Friday, March 22. Running time: 1:30. MPAA rating: R (sexual content, nudity, language, drug use).
Dave - Barry Watson
Adam - Michael Rosenbaum
Doofer - Harland Williams
Leah - Melissa Sagemiller
Jimmy - Tony Denman
Movie review, 'Sorority Boys'
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