Damsels in Distress As The Doors once famously said, "People are strange" and sometimes not very funny. Usually I can meet a film halfway. But with the Noel Coward-like title "Damsels in Distress" it is bloody well difficult. The film confounds me. It is so weird, flat, blatantly uncomic and incomprehensible with sight gags so shallow and silly that it is almost an unreviewable film. And as I reviewed, the embarrassing "Atlas Shrugged" that's saying something. The film centers on Seven Oaks College. Three preppy girls select a new transfer student, a Lilly, (Analeigh Tipton). Analeigh is a bit shy and reserved, but as she is pitted against three vapid and insipid girls, I understand why. It's best to keep one's mouth shut. Lily is surrounded by near mindless soles who only seem to care about hygiene, the fashions of Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren or Banana Republic (the only interesting part of the film about midway) and perfume. There is Violet (Greta Gerwig) The vivacious looking Rose (Megalyn Echikonwoke) and the Stepfordesque Heather (Carrie Maclemore). Invariably they go on about clothes, suicide and guys. This is done in such a way as to become flatter than glass. It's like...well, watching paint dry. The film has one peculiar quirky highlight and that is the character of Violet. Gerwig's dialogue is so stilted and pseudo analytical with so much double-speak and princess gobbledygook it honestly inhibits rationale. But her character contains a few good chuckles when she rambles on about perfume. I wanted to say yikes, enough already! But as I am a perfume enthusiast, (pertaining to romantic letters) I can almost relate. The trouble is the joke goes on far too long and ceases to become funny. The way the debutantes chatter becomes boring and innocuous. Rose keeps getting her sinuses inflamed because of male odor. Really? So? The jokes go over like a lead pipe, more sappy than a Tom and Jerry cartoon. There is a clueless geek of a tap-dancer in the film with no coordination who everybody calls "freak", and this isn't funny, even if this IS his name. There is a French character, Xavier, a sort of human Pepe Le Pew (Hugo Becker) but his accent is so muddled that I found it too much of a cartoon too be funny. There is even a Thor, a jock type who doesn't know his colors. Oh come on. But wait....when the jocks want to commit suicide they are too dumb to do it correctly, so they jump off a two story building. And then there is a toga scene with dogs as lions that would make Rob Schneider's movies into works of genius. After "Animal House" this scene is pointless. I would get this film if it set out to be John Waters material, but it's just plain flat. A dude that's so dumb not to know his colors??? That one still gets me. It is curious how the college is shot with the three girls backlit in bright sun as if they are angels modeling Nordstrom. It is also reminiscent of the horror films of Wes Craven. By the middle of the film I wanted Freddy Kruger to leap out at them all. That would have been fun! At best, if there is a best, this film is "The Gilmore Girls" on amphetamines and at worst, it's just at its worst, on par with Gregg Araki's "Kaboom!" and just as stilted. I would have rather checked my mail for a perfumed card and perhaps a bit of olfactory adventure far more expansive than this film.
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