The Sweetest Thing’ offers new-style comedy

Cameron Diaz has become a poster girl of sorts for the new romantic comedy, the comedy in which the unexpected must be expected. Her first foray into the genre was with “My Best Friend’s Wedding” in which she portrayed a dim-bulb bride intent on keeping her man from Julia Roberts’ frantic meddling. The follow up, “There’s Something About Mary” turned her into the girl that every man wants and every woman is supposed to want to be.

This time around she is a man-eater with a habit of giving out the wrong phone number to the wide variety of potential suitors she meets in dance clubs. She lives her life without the sad romantic notions that make other women want to read books like “The Rules.” When she finally meets the right guy, however, he disappears, as is the case with any romantic comedy worth its salt. So, with the help of her best friend, played by the scene stealing Christina Applegate, Cameron Diaz’ character goes out in search of this perfect mate.

“The Sweetest Thing” plays on the modern notion that women don’t want a mate and rather prefer to just stick with “Mr. Right Now.” The film uses a vast amount of slapstick and delivers a few laughs. It is a shame, however, that in order to tell a story of independent women the filmmakers chose to write dialogue for them that includes phrases like “you are such a pussy” to insult each other. Apparently if a woman is to have a strong personality and a self-possessed attitude, she must also be more than willing to use the same derogatory remarks that an uncouth teenage boy would use to disparage a friend. Apparently we are to believe that it is impossible to show a strong-willed, funny woman without reducing her to an oversexed party girl who swears like a long-haul trucker.

The inclusion of late 1980s and early 1990s television stars like Applegate and Jason Bateman is a nice change. Both of these actors steal the show from recent movie staples like “Cruel Intentions” star Selma Blair, Diaz and Parker Posey in a surprising ultra-mainstream role. Bateman plays the “right guy’s” commitment-phobic brother hysterically and gives the audience something to look forward to in what could have been strictly a showcase of Diaz’ spastic dancing and guffaws. Hopefully we will see more of him in the future. Applegate shines in the role of best friend while subtly playing off her former sexpot image. Aside from the tacky derogatory lines, she comes across as very funny and imaginative.

The movie is guilty of subtly pandering to the lowest common denominator with a few gross out scenes that incidentally seem to be becoming a staple in most comedies as of late. The film is not a must see, but it does offer a new and funny take on the romantic comedy.