[Screen It]

(2002) (Barry Watson, Michael Rosenbaum) (R)

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Comedy: After being kicked out of their frat house for allegedly stealing money, three college guys end up staying in a sorority house posing as coeds while trying to retrieve a videotape that will prove their innocence.
Dave (BARRY WATSON), Adam (MICHAEL ROSENBAUM) and Doofer (HARLAND WILLIAMS) are three guys who enjoy living in the Kappa Omicron Kappa house and throwing wild and sexist parties that irritate Leah (MELISSA SAGEMILLER), an outspoken feminist and head of the local chapter of Delta Omicron Gamma.

Yet, when Spence (BRAD BEYER), the KOK president, announces that the money the fraternity has been collecting for an important alumni cruise has been stolen by the three, they're immediately chased from the premises. When they realize that Spence was the only other person with the combination to the safe in their room and that he must have been caught on their hidden, motion-activated video camera, Dave, Adam and Doofer decide they must retrieve the tape to prove their innocence.

The only problem is that no one, including Adam's little fraternity brother, Jimmy (TONY DENMAN), will let them in. Accordingly, they show up at the next party dressed in drag and going by the names of Daisy, Adina and Roberta. Not surprisingly, their less than attractive looks immediately get them thrown from the house and to Leah's feet who's outside protesting.

Drawn in by her offer of free food as well as room and board if they pledge DOG, the three decide they can live there as women while they plot how to get their hands on that videotape. While there, they meet other sorority sisters including Patty (KATHRYN STOCKWOOD), who thinks she's a freak because of her height, Katie (HEATHER MATARAZZO) who has a rather loud speaking voice, and Frederique (YVONNE SCIO), a rather hairy French student.

As the men try to keep up their ruse, they soon learn the trials and tribulation of being a less than attractive woman at the college, all while Dave begins to fall for Leah who sees him as a compassionate female friend and possible lover. With the date of the important alumni cruise nearing, the three men in drag try to deal with their femininity while also attempting to clear their names of theft.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Who knows whom the world's first cross dresser was. Perhaps it was Og who, in the first annual caveman talent show, decided to dress up like the missus to entertain the tribe. Whatever and whomever the case, people have been dressing up in drag ever since then, some for entertainment purposes only and others to follow a certain lifestyle.

The former did it in plays for centuries and naturally progressed to doing it on TV and in the movies. That was done for just the shock or comedy value (such as Flip Wilson and Milton Berle in their TV shows) or because a certain situation in the script required that of them (as occurred in TV's "Bosom Buddies" and in movies such as "Some Like It Hot," "Tootsie," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and countless other comedies and a few dramas).

The latest such film hoping to elicit laughs from guys in drag is "Sorority Boys," a lame and sophomoric comedy about three frat guys who end up posing as sorority sisters to clear their name. Unlike previous efforts that come off as relatively sophisticated comedies in comparison, this one never moves past beyond its initial idiotic mentality. Despite some late in the game developments and general posturing to the contrary, it isn't overly interested in exploring the whole man/woman thing either, or relationships, differences among the sexes and/or inequalities that either might face.

In regards to being dumb and juvenile, it clearly succeeds - or fails, depending on one's overall view of the effort - as it delivers the sort of material designed to play to and hopefully entertain the Beavis and Butt-head crowd.

As credited to first-time scribes Joe Jarvis and Greg Coolidge and helmed by director Wallace Wolodarsky (who wrote and directed the barely seen "Coldblooded" with Jason Priestley), the film offers comic gems such as the frat guys belonging to the Kappa Omicron Kappa fraternity (so that they're known as or can use the term "KOKs" - get it?), while the homely girls make up the Delta Omicron Gamma sorority that similarly elicits all sorts of canine-related names.

Yes, that's the middle school level of material offered, dear readers, for your viewing pleasure. If that makes you laugh, you'll probably enjoy the material involving hamster's and men's rear ends, the ultra hairy French girl sightings, menstrual humor, and of course, lots and lots of dildos. Funny, I don't recall Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dueling with some phallic objects in "Some Like It Hot." Hmm, I must have blanked that out of my mind.

Unfortunately, such material is so copious here that it's hard to avoid noticing it, although the entire film is instantly forgettable in its quest to become the next "American Pie" sort of film for teen and twenty-something audiences.

While the film occasionally has a random amusing moment or two - although viewer reaction to that will vary wildly depending on one's tastes, mood and ability to get down and wallow in lowest common denominator "comedy" - most everything about it is far too lame and predictable to make it entertaining, even on the low level on which it clearly exists.

There's little surprise that the guys - played by Barry Watson ("Teaching Mrs. Tingle," TV's "7th Heaven"), Michael Rosenbaum ("Sweet November," "Urban Legend") and Harland Williams ("Freddy Got Fingered," "The Whole Nine Yards") - will learn what it's like to be a woman (in typical movie fashion). Accordingly, we get to see them being the recipients of sexist and callous remarks as well as unwanted sexual advances, while they also begin to obsess about their clothes and figures.

Surprise of surprises, they then become better guys because of their experiences as women. Imagine that. Yet, since the comedic attempts are both so juvenile and exceedingly banal, what little promise the picture had at being fun, let alone hilarious and, God forbid, smart, is thrown out the window (apparently to make way for all of the dildos that are constantly being throw in).

What's left is really just a series of vignettes that are loosely connected to the main plot of the guys in drag trying to retrieve a videotape that can prove their innocence regarding some stolen money. Unfortunately for them and the viewer, the filmmakers didn't come up with anything particularly creative or funny in regards to that quest. That is, of course, unless you find the scene where a lustful geek attempts to bed one of the guys in drag - not knowing she's a he - by popping a little date rape drug in his drink. Now, there's a smart choice for comedy.

Some confused-gender romance elements are also present (where a woman becomes best friends with one of the guys thinking he's a she), but are clearly lifted from "Tootsie" and are nowhere in the same league. That also holds true for the men in drag as compared with their TV and film predecessors.

Although the film's big gag is simply seeing the non-feminine looking men in women's clothing - especially regarding Williams - neither that, the performances nor the script allow for much of anything memorable to happen regarding the characters.

Melissa Sagemiller ("Soul Survivors," "Get Over It") plays the Jessica Lange part from "Tootsie," but without the class or sophistication, while the likes of Kathryn Stockwood ("Push," "Swap Meet"), Heather Matarazzo ("The Princess Diaries," "Welcome to the Dollhouse") and Yvonne Scio ("Passport to Paris," TV's "Rose Red") play stereotypical caricatures of women. Tony Denman ("Grumpy Old Men," "Beautiful Girls") and Brad Beyer ("The General's Daughter," "Crazy in Alabama") are even worse as completely obnoxious fraternity members, but that shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering that the rest of the film fully utilizes that adjective.

While I understand that the film isn't remotely trying to be high art, even dumb comedies have to be smart in how their humorous material is set up and then delivered. This one comes off as a lame, predictable and sophomoric experience that gets worse as it progresses. It might entertain its target audience, but few others will have the patience or taste for it. Deserving to lose their charter and be expelled from the cinema, these "Sorority Girls" rate as just a 2 out of 10.

Reviewed March 18, 2002 / Posted March 22, 2002

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