The Sweetest Thing

Since making her debut in The Mask, Cameron Diaz has been a ubiquitous fixture in films and fashion magazines; it's surprising that she's only now getting a solo vehicle, particularly since that vehicle relies heavily on audience familiarity with her work. A crazy-quilt amalgamation of bits recycled from its star's previous films, The Sweetest Thing feels like a narrative version of Cameron Diaz's Greatest Cinematic Hits. Enjoyed the naughty, seemingly improvised girl-talk banter of Charlie's Angels? Check out the risqué girls'-night-out wisecracking of Diaz, Selma Blair, and Christina Applegate in The Sweetest Thing. Chortled uproariously at Ben Stiller's public sexual humiliation in There's Something About Mary? Dig Blair's nearly identical humiliation here. The Sweetest Thing recycles Mary's raunchiness and scatological gags, Charlie's Angels' constant lip-synching-while-shimmying-about-in-skimpy-clothes scenes, and numerous other bits designed to bring back fond memories of Diaz's earlier, funnier films. Even with all its pilfering, the movie still feels shapeless and undernourished, like an improv exercise stretched to feature length. Directed by Cruel Intentions' Roger Kumble, The Sweetest Thing casts Diaz as a high-spirited single woman who hides her fear of commitment and responsibility behind a teasing exterior. Aided by Applegate and Blair, she prowls the city's nightclubs, toying with the hearts of men, but she meets her match in handsome Thomas Jane, with whom she shares several minutes of conversation after grabbing his ass. Jane then leaves for a wedding, prompting a love-struck Diaz to go on a road trip with Applegate to find him. Like Sex And The City, Thing provides a convincing argument for mass sterilization among today's vapid singles, as well as a skewed, depressing take on single life in which spunky, sexy, professional women are compelled to feel worthless if they aren't in stable relationships. Diaz does what she can under adverse circumstances, but she doesn't come close to salvaging this ramshackle vehicle.

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