Directed by Peter M. Cohen
Review by Matt Heffernan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Amanda Peet has been quickly making her way through Hollywood, getting small, but memorable, parts in big films (The Whole Nine Yards), and bigger roles in small films (Body Shots). Her "latest" film (it's actually been delayed trying to get rid of its former NC-17 rating) is another indie, but it's her first starring vehicle to get wide distribution.
Whipped opens with three young men having brunch in a New York diner. Brad (Brian Van Holt) is a good-looking, chauvinistic blond with a high-paying job on Wall Street. Zeke (Zorie Barber) puts on an even bigger macho front, despite having much less money and being far more unattractive. They boast of their sexual exploits while their more sensitive friend, Jonathan (Jonathan Abrahams), listens. Of course, he isn't at all good at "scamming" chicks, and the only women he mentions have names that are strangely similar to brands of hand lotion.
A week later -- same time, same place -- they meet again, but this time their stories are different. Each guy talks about a woman they met over the weekend that may be worth hanging on to. Not even Brad or Zeke have any sex to mention. Just as it seems they may be heading into adult relationships, like their married friend Eric (Judah Domke), they all show up at the apartment of Mia (Peet), who has been dating all three of them for a week. Even though they just met her, none of them is willing to break it off, so she continues (and advances) the relationships.
The film puts forth an interesting dilemma that forces the characters and the audience to examine the mechanics of male friendship. The insight and humor that derive from this heightened sexual competition are quite impressive. It's nothing new (see Two Girls and a Guy, The Very Thought of You, or even The Philadelphia Story), but it is executed well. However, it is ironic that the only character we don't get to know is Mia. Peet has the comic ability to make the part work, but it does little to show the true depth of her talents.
Peter M. Cohen makes his debut writing and directing Whipped -- not to mention a cameo as a pizza delivery guy. The film isn't exactly "stylized"; it's more like watching people talk, but since what they're saying is interesting, it's not too bad. He does opt to use montages where the characters will address the camera, describing their view of the situation. They work better than the single-shot asides in Body Shots, which played more like interviews for a documentary. The bits in Whipped fit well in the context, and point to a favorably Allen-esque future for Cohen.
For Peet, Hollywood stardom will have to wait. The public virtually ignored Whipped over Labor Day Weekend, opening with a meager $2.7 million for 14th place. Even The Crew made more in fewer theatres on its second weekend. Her next opportunity will come February 16 in Saving Silverman, with Jason Biggs. It has a great cast (including Jack Black and Steve Zahn), but a horrible director -- Dennis Dugan (Big Daddy, Problem Child). It seems the girl just can't get a break.
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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan