The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday May 28th

Brit Comedy Veers Between Laughs, Soft-Core Porn Flick

While "Crush" has been billed as a sort of girls'-night-out emotional bender, it would be more appropriately described as a mindless journey through a room-temperature piece of Swiss cheese.

Not only is the material relatively uninteresting, far from heart-warming and trite, it is one of the most uncharming British comedies ever shipped stateside.

"Crush" (more aptly called "Sad Fuckers Club" in its homeland) focuses on the lives of three gin-drinking, cigarette-smoking, 40-something women who desperately need to get laid. Best friends and true compatriots Molly (Anna Chancellor), Janine (Imelda Staunton) and Kate (Andie MacDowell) find in each other what they can not find in a man.

Mind you, there are no pillow fights, no scary hair dying scenes and no moments when a girl would just want to scream, "Like, oh my God, I am so like her!" But there are plenty of chocolates, introspective conversations about marriage and sly sideways glances.

But what makes "Crush" individualistic is its tendency toward soft porn. Playing the school teacher/headmistress role to the letter, MacDowell sheds her "Groundhog Day"-type innocence, and her clothing, when she develops a crush (surprise!) on the town's newest addition, Jed (Kenny Doughty), the church's organ player.

As Kate and Jed's relationship develops, so do the sex scenes. The film's material seems hardly appropriate: You can do it in the graveyard, you can do it in the cloister, you can do it in your friend's house, but heaven forbid one decent bedroom scene with some intimacy.

Rather Kate, who is of course Jed's former English teacher, and her 25-year-old boy toy revel in the unadulterated pleasures of vigorous and spontaneous sex. But it's not sex; it's a verb they won't let me use here.

And in that verb "Crush's" message is encapsulated -- get married and breed before you get too old, otherwise you will find yourself climbing the rungs of middle age's hangman's ladder with your equally sad friends in tow. Unless you fall in love with your 25-year-old boy toy.

A plot twist? Perhaps. But a film like "Crush" cannot expend itself on too many of these twists; it would be a waste of the romantic comedy vibe the director has worked to establish. Any more and it just might turn into something resembling a drama.

Wasting that comedic vibe would be a tragedy, since it is the only thing saving "Crush" from being an abominable estrogen festival that even the most righteous woman could not bear to watch.

Molly, Janine and Kate's quest to find true love -- or at least happiness -- is honorable, though it is utterly impossible to care about them as people. Molly develops into an absolute horror, and Janine is consistently too weak-opinioned to garner any sort of interest. Only Kate sparks the mildest flame, and that is mainly because she is accompanied by Jed for the latter half of the film.

In the end, no character is truly the worse for the wear -- "Crush" dealt an even hand of sappiness and low chuckles. That hand was never intended for any fan of "Rambo," and even those who enjoyed the quirkiness of "Waking Ned Devine" might raise their eyebrows at this film's lack of creativity.

But if it's a mindless British romantic comedy you want, it's a mindless British romantic comedy you've got.

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