The most indie of the raunchy female comedies to hit in the post ‘Bridesmaids’ world, even if it went into production first, ‘That’s What She Said’ is a mostly amusing flick that is buoyed nicely by a rather hilarious turn by Anne Heche. Actress turned director Carrie Preston has a solid feel for filmmaking and definitely knows what it means to make a movie set in New York City, even if the film never especially feels all that original. What works in its favor is the chemistry between the actresses in the cast and a lightweight charm that keeps you interested in following the admittedly thin plot. It’s clearly designed to be a “bromance” aimed at women, and in that regard it’s a small-scale success. No one is going to confuse this with a masterpiece of any sort, but if ‘Bachelorette’ was too mean spirited for you and ‘For a Good Time, Call…’ was too much like a sitcom, then this might be the right mixture for your filmgoing needs. For me, it falls somewhere in between, and of course far below ‘Bridesmaids’, but it’s heads and tails better than something like ‘The Sweetest Thing’ from a number of years back. It opens on Friday and while I expect the box office take to be minimal, the audience is definitely there for this sort of movie. I had a good time with it and laughed more than I expected to. I have a hunch that for many of you the same result might occur if you wind up seeing it.
The basics of the plot concerns a day out between 2 friends and the odd younger girl that they pick up along the way in a coffee shop. When Dee Dee (Heche) meets up that morning with Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) at a cafe, the former expects to be only half listening to the latter talk about a long in development date she has planned for that evening. The thing is, Bebe is deep in conversation with a distraught girl named Clementine (Alia Shawkat) when Dee Dee arrives. Clementine has just gotten dumped and appears to have a few issues, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg, as they’ll find out when they volunteer to have her come along on their errands. Dee Dee is pretty much a pill popping alcoholic who barely functions, while Bebe is a sloppy and unconfident woman, so the sex crazed Clementine fits right in. What follows is mostly just a series of silly misadventures that could only really happen in New York. It’s not heavy fare, but it’s amusing far more often than it isn’t.
The main reason to praise this movie is Anne Heche’s performance as the larger than life personality that is Dee Dee. She’s willing to be incredibly unlikable and it really goes a long way towards liking the flick, ironically. She has good chemistry with her co-stars in a bossy sort of way, but it’s her line deliveries and casual remarks (as well as, yes, her dirty mouth) that propels the film along. Heche doesn’t usually do this sort of work, so it’s a nice change of pace for her. Marcia DeBonis isn’t on the same level as Heche, but she still gets in some good lines and comes into her own during the climax. Alia Shawkat is showing up a lot more these days and this is her most out there role to date, something she’s game for. She’s not amazingly memorable, but she works well with her character. Also in the cast are the likes of Kate Rigg, Miriam Shor, Mandy Siegfried, and even the film’s writer Kellie Overbey, but without Heche there wouldn’t be much to speak of here.
Carrie Preston certainly has a future behind the camera if she wants it. Mainly known as an actress, especially with the success of ‘True Blood’, she shows solid aptitude as a director and takes Kellie Overbey’s adaptation of her own stage play and turns it into a worthy cinematic experience. Oftentimes this could have been a play, but she opens it up in just the right ways and shows off New York City quite well. Her direction won’t win any awards, but she keeps things moving along nicely. The script that Overbey wrote is a bit slapdash at times, but the jokes work more often than they don’t, which is the most important thing for something like this. Preston has a real good film in her one day, I can feel it.
‘That’s What She Said’ will have to fight to make itself known at the box office when it opens this weekend, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a funny little flick that deserves to be seen by those looking for a female driven comedy. The New York details are well done for me and there’s just a charm on the screen that’s hard to resist. Anne Heche is the reason to see this, but it’s solid enough overall to recommend. Don’t go in expecting your mind blown, but expect to be entertained…
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Tags: Alia Shawkat, Anne Heche, Carrie Preston, Entertainment/Culture, Kellie Overbey, Marcia DeBonis, That's What She Said