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