Sony // 2001 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Erick Harper (Retired) // August 31st, 2001
"I love the smell of bridesmaids in the morning."
Do not watch this movie. In the name of all things good and decent and cinematic, do not watch this movie. You see, it's bad. It's beyond Ed Wood bad. It's beyond Roger Corman-with-a-hangover bad. Tomcats is so bad that it quite possibly foretells the demise of 3,000 years of Western culture.
Seven years ago, a group of friends made a bet. They all agreed to kick in a chunk of cash into a "bachelor pool." The cash was invested in a mutual fund of some sort, and whoever remained single the longest would win the pot.
Now, seven years later, only two guys are still standing. Michael (Jerry O'Connell -- Stand by Me) is a nice guy without much money, who makes his living drawing cartoons. Kyle (Jake Busey -- Starship Troopers) is fabulously rich, although it is not clear exactly what he does. He is also a complete...ahem, "rectal orifice," loud and obnoxious and dedicated to "screwing every woman on the planet." He's the kind of guy who takes a girl with him golfing and runs her over repeatedly with a golf cart. He's the kind of guy who has sex with a Catholic schoolgirl in her dad's car while she is puking her guts out from drinking, and later describes the event to his friends in excruciating detail. Needless to say, he's a big hit with the ladies. Only in Hollywood...
After a wild night of gambling in Vegas, Michael finds himself $50,000 in debt to Carlos (Bill Maher -- Politically Incorrect), a ruthless mobster. Michael knows he has only one chance to get the money -- by winning the bachelor pool, which is now up to almost $500,000.
When Kyle lets slip that he has been pining for Natalie (Shannon Elizabeth -- American Pie, American Pie II), the lost true love of his life, Michael sees his big chance. He tracks Natalie down and convinces her to seduce Kyle in exchange for half of the money. Of course, as Michael and Natalie work out their scheme, they fall for each other. This being a movie, of course he manages to screw the whole thing up and Natalie goes through with the plan to marry Kyle. Michael tries to stop the wedding, but arrives too late; Kyle and Natalie have already left on their honeymoon. Michael is crushed, but he does get the money and is able to pay off Carlos.
Natalie of course ditches the loud and obnoxious Jake on their wedding night, repaying him for ditching her all those years ago. Michael finds out, finds Natalie, and winds up with the girl and the money.
Oh, sorry, I guess I should have put up a "spoiler warning." Darn the luck.
Along the way to this utterly predictable conclusion we are treated to strippers that don't actually strip but have other...talents, testicular cancer, a surgeon inadvertently eating an amputated cancerous testicle, a trip to a sperm bank, and, in perhaps the most bizarre sequence I have ever seen on film, a sweet little librarian who turns out to be a raving dominatrix. If I left anything out, please let me know.
To answer the question that is first and foremost on your mind if you are even bothering to read this review: no, there is no nudity in this movie. Not Shannon Elizabeth, not Jamie Pressly, no one. If you were thinking of checking it out on that basis, probably due to the misleading trailers, then stay away.
If you were thinking of checking it out on any other basis, the question that comes to mind is, "did you eat a lot of paint chips as a child?" After reading the above description, you still want to see this? Would it help to dissuade you if I told you that we get an extreme close-up of David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H) sinking his teeth into a freshly amputated testicle? Did you not read the part about the trip to the sperm bank?
The question that ran through my mind over and over again as I watched Tomcats was "who in the world would do that?" Who would accompany his best friend to the sperm bank for moral support? Who would send his friend to retrieve an amputated testicle, and who would agree to such a mission? Who would rather see his friend die at the hands of mobsters than lend him a measly $50,000 out of a $500,000 bachelor pot?
The acting performances in Tomcats range from nonexistent to terrible. Almost the entire cast is uniformly bad, with one exception. Jake Busey, as Kyle, stands head and shoulders above the crowd as the worst actor in the film. He is like Matthew Lillard on crank. Remember his characters from Starship Troopers and Home Fries? They seem like George Will when compared to Kyle. Busey struts and frets his way through his scenes, and indeed succeeds in signifying nothing.
I could go on. I could wax eloquent about the horrible depiction of women in this movie and the underlying misogyny. I could complain about the unimaginative camerawork, the lousy dialogue, the cheesy "flip" wipes that make the movie feel like one long commercial. I could beat up on the cretin known as Jake Busey some more. But I just can't go on. An intelligent analysis of this movie serves no purpose. What I really want to say is that it is lame and farfetched and not funny at all. And I'm a guy who spent many a night in my college days staying up till dawn watching Beavis and Butthead Moron-a-Thons.
This lump of sewer jewels comes to us from the hands of writer/director Gregory Poirier. Greggy Boy has been busy this year; he was also the mastermind behind See Spot Run, a movie so bad that three-year-olds in the audience were forced to question the validity of their own existence.
Tomcats comes to us on DVD from Columbia TriStar. There are two options available for your viewing pleas...well, for your viewing. You can watch the film in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, or you can watch it in pan-and-scan. The anamorphic transfer is surprisingly bad for a recent Columbia TriStar release. I've seen home movies from when my dad was a kid in the 1940s and '50s that looked better. Dark scenes are grainy and indistinct. Well-lit scenes show major noise and false motion in supposedly solid surfaces. Fine textures like hair are a mess. There are scenes that are at once too soft and show signs of badly done edge enhancement. There is a scene in a sauna that looks like it was shot outdoors in a snowstorm. Colors are quite muted in a lot of scenes, and flesh tones tend to run too far to the pink. Overall the picture had a lot more nicks and blips than one would expect for this recent a film. In summary, it looks a lot like the discs that Miramax and others were putting out about three years ago -- pretty bad by today's standards.
On the other hand, the audio mix is pretty good. There are two mixes available: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 surround. (Okay, three mixes, if you count the Dolby 2.0 French dub.) The Dolby 5.1 mix is good but not outstanding; this isn't a movie that will give your sound system much of a workout. The surround channels are used mostly for musical background noise. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, although in this case I'm not so sure that's a good thing.
Extra content consists of production notes, six filmographies, and a collection of trailers. Trailers are provided for Tomcats, The Adventures of Joe Dirt, Jerry Maguire, Saving Silverman, and Starship Troopers. That's it. A pretty paltry collection of features to be sure, but somehow in this case I found this to be a blessing.
Since I unloaded in the "Evidence" section, I guess I'd better say something nice here. Ummm...the DVD is nice and round and symmetrical. Shannon Elizabeth is an attractive young lady and shows more acting ability than the rest of the young cast put together. I'm sure she has a great future ahead of her doing color commentary for Battlebots on Comedy Central. Jerry O'Connell is another matter; the best that he can hope for is "I'll take Jerry O'Connell to block." It was a real treat to see David Ogden Stiers again, even if he was wasted in crap like this. That is all.
After watching Tomcats I was stunned. I seriously considered selling my DVD player. Heck, I even considered having the electricity to my house disconnected. Do not watch this movie. If you buy, rent, or watch Tomcats it will seriously damage your higher brain functions. I had to watch it; this is my job. The rest of you have no excuse, and if you voluntarily watch this movie, you should be barred from watching movies for the rest of your life. I mean it, stay away. There is nothing to see here, these are not the droids you are looking for, move along.
Tomcats is guilty. It's just so...guilty. This movie has so drained me that I can't think of anything more than that to say.
I'm not sure what to do with Columbia TriStar. Ordinarily I'd throw the book at them for a DVD like this one, with very substandard video and no special features to speak of. This is far different than what we have come to expect from them. On the other hand, in this case perhaps it's a blessing in disguise. I will let them off with a warning this time.
We stand adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2001 Erick Harper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Production Notes