Slums of Beverly Hills

Bomb Rating: 

In her first ever movie, writer/director Tamara Jenkins is doing wonders for feminism. Aren't women always complaining that men are obsessed with their breasts? That men are always saying that a woman without breasts is like a day without sunshine? That men can't order chicken breasts in a restaurant without their erections thwacking the underside of the table with such force that the water glasses bounce?

Well none of that would seem to bother Jenkins, who revolves her entire masterpiece around the large bosom of 15-year-old Vivian Abramowitz (Natasha Lyonne), who could shelter the extended family of a polygamous African tribal lord under the soothing shade of her hideously engorged mammary glands.

Vivian lives with her father (Alan Arkin) and her two brothers (David Krumholtz, Eli Marienthal) on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. They move from apartment building to apartment building until dad has to go spring wacky cousin Rita (Marisa Tomei) from drug rehab. Rita becomes sort of the mother figure in the film and her main function is to introduce Vivian to the joy of vibrators.

This is one of those movies that, rather than concluding a story, just sort of runs out of film. There's also a curious reliance on body doubles. Flat-chested Marisa Tomei flashes a truck driver and Jenkins cuts to the chest of Anna Nicole Smith. Similarly, Vivian goes in for breast-reduction advice and Jenkins moves in on her boobs faster than Bill Clinton after a Viagra overdose.

I haven't seen such a sensitive appreciation for the feminine mystique since dollar beer night at the Legacy of Abuse 24-Hour Strip Club. Hey, when I see Marisa from the back and she opens her robe and the truck driver stops, I don't assume she's got a sandwich board under there that says: "Honk if you love feminism." Instead, I assume it's but another case of a Hollywood filmmaker selling out before she's even bothered to amass a salable amount of integrity.

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