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Slap Her, She's French

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Slap Her, She's French

Starring: Piper Perabo, Michael McKean
Director: Melanie Mayron
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Trent Ford, Alexandra Adi, Jane McGregor

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

SLAP HER SHE'S FRENCH, by director Melanie Mayron ("thirtysomething"), is a cute and sometimes side-splittingly funny blend of LEGALLY BLONDE and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. Starring Piper Perabo in what could be her breakthrough role as Genevieve LePlouff, a French foreign exchange student who is Texas bound. For those who thought after her leading roles in THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY & BULLWINKLE and COYOTE UGLY that Perabo was just a pretty face, this movie proves them wrong. Although she's no Reese Witherspoon -- Who is? -- Perabo demonstrates some impressive comedic talent. Her co-star, Jane McGregor, is just as good, and together they really know how to tickle an audience's funny bone.

After a blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene in which the movie needlessly gives away its conclusion, the story starts with Starla Grady (McGregor) about to compete in a very Texas beauty contest -- a "Beef Pageant." Starla, a character with a Reese Witherspoon level of spunk, has a secret weapon. No, it's not the Vaseline that she rubs on her teeth. It's her strategy for answering whatever question they ask her on stage. "No matter what they ask, I'm gonna bring up God," she says. She's ready to kill the girl that steals this idea, leaving Starla to improvise. In order to prove her generosity and overall sterling character to the judges, she tells them that her family is going to host a foreign exchange student. This idea proves to trump even God.

When Genevieve gets off the plane, she isn't at all what the LePlouff family expects. As homely as homely can be, Genevieve is dressed in a Catholic grade school girl's smock and frilly blouse. She wears dorky, horn-rimmed glasses, a black beret and no make-up. She is the polar opposite of Starla, the head Hornet (which in proper Texan is pronounced "whorenet") of her high school's drill team. Genevieve is mousy, shy and unsure of herself. In short, she's a complete impostor. It's not giving anything away to say this. The story makes it obvious that she isn't what she seems to be, but knowing the joke doesn't diminish the fun one bit. As Starla puts it just before her life starts unraveling, "It doesn't get better than this. I guess I should have seen the signs, but the handwriting on the wall was in French."

Starla's big ambition is to become the next Katie Couric, so she is training to win the junior anchorperson contest. Starla, who says with all seriousness that "Barbie is a role model," may or may not be anchorperson material, but she sure is a brilliant contest competitor. Before she gets to the big competition, however, she encounters more than a few unexpected roadblocks. But there are no roadblocks to the audience's enjoyment of this little treat. Expect to laugh often at the story's good-spirited humor.

SLAP HER SHE'S FRENCH runs a very fast 1:32. It is rated PG-13 for "sex-related humor, drug content and language" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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