Judge Patrick Bromley felt a little silly sitting in his living room wearing a raincoat while watching this movie, but not as silly as when he tried to stuff dollar bills into the front of his DVD player.
It's about friendship, fantasies, and other touchy subjects.
If HBO's Sex and the City wasn't funny or clever or sexy or hip but still had Kim Cattrall in it, it would be Live Nude Girls. Writer/director Julianna Lavin's 1995 talkfest centers around a bachelorette party being thrown for Jamie (Cattrall, Big Trouble in Little China), a mildly successful B-movie actress preparing to take her third walk down the aisle. Attending the sleepover are a bevy of chick flick clichés: Jill (Dana Delany, Light Sleeper, Tombstone), the vulgar suburban soccer-mom; Marcy (Cynthia Stevenson, The Player, Happiness), the frumpy nerd; Rachel (Laila Robins, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael), Jill's prudish older sister; party-thrower and sometimes-lesbian Georgina (Lora Zane, Men Don't Leave) and her boyish lover Chris (Olivia d'Abo, The Wonder Years, Kicking and Screaming). Will secrets be revealed? Old wounds resurface? New bonds formed? Greenpeace collector humped? You can bet your maxi-pad on it.
Allow me to start out by pronouncing that I do not subscribe to the commonly accepted concept of the "chick flick"—that certain films, good or bad, only appeal to half the earth's population. (For this same reason, I refuse to accept that women cannot enjoy action films—just ask the wife-to-be.) As far as I've ever been concerned, a good movie is a good movie. While I can recognize that some contain more of a feminine sensibility or speak more to that particular audience, a movie that's well made—one with any kind of lasting power—must have a certain amount of universality within it to work.
Having said that, I must also point out that Julianna Lavin does not appear to subscribe to this particular theory—she's gone ahead and ditched universality in a cheap attempt to slavishly appeal to gender stereotypes and "chick flick" conventions. There seems to be an overriding desire to present women "as they really are," which basically means that they're just as sexually charged as men—they fantasize about sex like men, talk about it with their friends like men, and even (gulp) pleasure themselves like men. I believe that all of that is true, but I've got a hard time accepting that that's all there is to it—despite all of the similarities, women are not the same as men, and Live Nude Girls does little to present a decidedly female perspective on any of the topics at hand. It's so busy attempting to draw comparisons to male stereotypes that it can hardly avoid making its female characters into cartoons as well.
And yet everything in the movie suffers from a forced female bent. Lavin and her cast have seemingly set out to make the ultimate chick flick, and by doing so succeed in alienating not only any potential male audience, but also any self-respecting or moderately intelligent female audience—one that might not care to associate itself with the portrayal of women onscreen. A number of the laughs come at the expense of men (what better way to instantly appeal to the basest chick flick demographic?)—they're bad lovers, or desperate, or pathetic, or psychotic. The only man welcome into the girls' circle in the course of the film is an African American pool boy (he's played by an actor named Vaginal Davis, if that gives you any indication), who is the single most outlandishly simplistic homosexual stereotype since Meshach Taylor in Mannequin (another Kim Cattrall film…I'm sensing a pattern here). It would seem that if you're going to be fit to hang out with the girls, you'd better be the next best thing.
I don't mean to say that Live Nude Girls is an utter waste of your time and their celluloid, just that it's simple-minded and sometimes insulting. There are a few good qualities—it's light and occasionally watchable, with a few laughs to be found. The cast seems game, and if nothing else it's fascinating to hear Kim Cattrall's natural airy-ditz voice before she had discovered her monotonously throaty Sex and the City alto. Dana Delany, on the other hand, is an actress whose appeal I never fully understood—watching her bare ass get spanked by Garry Marshall as Don Corleone prompted me to voluntarily burn out every visual and memory receptor in my brain. (The scene, apparently inspired by Delany and Marshall's previous domination collaboration, 1994's Exit to Eden, forces us to question which is more disturbing: knowing that Garry Marshall is responsible for it, or actually watching him participate?)
The DVD release of Live Nude Girls comes courtesy of Lions Gate, which recently acquired Artisan and is holding firm to that studio's standards of quality on lesser catalog releases. What does this mean? Well, the movie's full-frame, for one, and filled with grain and image defects—it's the typical bad picture we've come to expect. (Lions Gate has had some terrific releases recently—Cabin Fever and The Cooler come to mind—so why must it remain split into two camps?) The sound is bad, too, though it's an improvement over the video quality; the 2.0 stereo track delivers the dialogue audibly and discernibly, though it's still muddier than it ought to be. Not surprisingly, there are no extras.
With only some slight reservations, the Court suggests that these Live Nude Girls put on some clothes and die.
Wait, that's harsh.
Don't worry about putting clothes on.
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