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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Tomcats

Starring: Shannon Elizabeth, Jerry O'Connell
Director: Gregory Poirer
Rated: R
RunTime: 93 Minutes
Release Date: March 2001
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Jake Busey, Jaime Pressly, Bill Maher, Horatio Sanz

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Try to imagine "American Pie" without Eugene Levy and "Road Trip" with Tom Green and you have some idea of the quality of humor of "Tomcats." As appropriately vulgar and cleavage-filled as the two movies that Gregory Poirier is trying to imitate, "Tomcats" has its moments of kittenish humor but given its jagged breakdown into a series of Saturday-Night-live style skits, each milked for vulgar amusement, the movie simply does not purr smoothly along. Nonetheless, this is not the complete loss that a reasonably intelligent audience might have thought it would be, but in fact serves as a decent-enough counterpoint for those looking for a bottom-feeder break from the magnificent arthouse fare coming from Iran--although the spring break crowd might just think that for their taste, "Tomcats" is actually too mild, too good-natured despite its coarseness.

If I said that this was too mild, that just goes to show how far we've come from the bad old days that the Hollywood code required a man and woman filmed in bed to have at least one leg each on the floor.

Revolution Studios' first production is hardly an insurrection but yet another feature that takes sophomoric humor from its "Animal House" roots through the far better "South Park" and "American Pie" to its present, near-dead end. The story revolves around a bet placed seven years earlier by the titled tomcats, a group of hellraising fraternity types. Each member shells out a thousand bucks. The last one to remain single takes the kitty. Invested wisely in high-stakes mutual funds, according to the stockbroker type in the crowd, the kitty could easily quadruple before someone wins the cash. Naturally the guy who thought he'd be single forever, Steve (Horatio Sanz), walks (or rather, lumbers) down the aisle first and shows up from time to time as the fellow who has reason to suspect that his wife Tricia (Jaime Pressly) is carrying on a lesbian affair. The fun continues when just two guys are left standing (not really standing all that often given the number of women who fall into their arms regularly) to compete for the money--which during the Clinton age of prosperity has now reached into the hundreds of thousands. When Michael Delaney (Jerry O'Connell) loses heavily at a casino, he becomes more determined than ever to win, but Kyle Brenner (Jake Busey), who sees no reason to take the big step to the altar, falls big for Michael's girl friend, the adorable Natalie Parker (Shannon Elizabeth).

What counts is not so much the principal tale of this mostly kitty litter, but the attempts by scripter-director Gregory Poirier (who penned the mostly underrated thriller "Gossip") to keep upping the ante. Easily the biggest gross-out occurs when Kyle, who is diagnosed with cancer, undergoes removal of the tumored testicle only to lead his pal Michael on a chase down the hospital aisles to recover the part of his body he wants to save. As the renegade piece of equipment, successfully removed from its scrotum, rolls and falls and is ping-ponged from wall to wall, it lands in a doctor's bon bon dessert--forcing Michael to substitute a nut (literally) and pass this off in a bottle of preservative as the missing link.

"Tomcats" may serve as a consolation prize for the jocks who couldn't raise the scratch to go to Cancun during spring break, but despite its occasional laughs, it doesn't give the Mexican Tourist Board much to worry about.

Copyright 2001 Harvey Karten

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