J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Girls Against Boys: a Chick Flick


Thirty-some years ago, a film like this might have generated all kinds of controversy, regardless of its merits.  It could be considered a sign of social progress it now only inspires shrugs.  Nonetheless, gender-oriented vigilantism should never be such a hum drum affair.  Indeed, that is about the size of Austin Chick’s Girls Against Boys (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Shae thought she was going to have a lovely romantic weekend with her technically married boyfriend.  Instead, he dumps her, having resolved to make his marriage work for the sake of his young daughter.  His timing is lousy, but frankly this is sort of the right thing to do.  He will pay for it though.  First, the depressed Shae turns to her co-worker Lu for support.  At Lu’s prompting, they embark on an all night bender, culminating in the loft of a group of hipsters everyone in the audience can tell are blindingly bad news.  Unfortunately, Shae is so disoriented she leaves with Simon, the worst of the lot, who does exactly what we suspect he will.

The next morning, she reports the crime to the police, who are ridiculously disinterested.  One would think any red-blooded NYPD cop would relish the opportunity to roust a pretentious Greenpoint “artist,” but evidently not.  However, Lu is perfectly willing to lead her into a Thelma & Louise style revenge killing spree.

There are two paths a film like this can take.  Either it becomes a dark psychological study in which viewers are supposed be horrified by the acts the two “girls” commit against the “boys,” or it should be a cathartic exercise in frontier justice-by proxy.  Yet, Chick tries to steer a middle course, suggesting maybe on the one hand, the guys deserve some form of cosmic retribution, but then again, there seems to be something a little off or overboard about Lu’s plunge into binge murder.  The resulting lukewarm tone leaves little lasting impression.  Even when the women get medieval on Simon, GAB’s only halfway memorable scene, Chick chickens out, wrapping it up just as it starts illicit an emotional response.

Danielle Panabaker is actually pretty good covering Shae’s considerable range of extreme emotions and Nicole LaLiberte can flash some seriously crazy eyes as Lu.  The rest of the cast just isn’t bad enough to stand out in any way.  One wonders if the word generic was used in the casting notices.

Clearly, GAB thinks it is edgy and challenging, but in reality it is gutlessly noncommittal.  Completely lackluster, Girls Against Boys will profoundly disappoint the grindhouse audience it is targeting when it opens today (2/1) in New York at the Quad Cinema.

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