Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Girls Against Boys (2012): And How Was YOUR Weekend?

Just because a girl blows away a guy's genitals with a gun doesn't make her the world's best feminist. Likewise, just because a director wants to make a film like Tarantino doesn't mean it's going to be even remotely close. 

Director Austin Chick's Girls Against Boys (quite possibly a major contender in the running for "Stupidest Title of 2013") wants to be edgy and self-aware but it never quite gets there, instead forcing us to endure long stretches of film with no dialogue and never-ending reflection from the lead character. It does have its moments, but for the most part it simply falls flat.

Ms.45 it ain't. Heck, it isn't even I Spit On Your Grave.  What it is though, is a somewhat different approach to revenge films, and certainly not what I expected.

Shae (Danielle Panabaker, well known to horror audiences for her work in several genre films) is having a hell of a day.  After bragging to a friend about her plans to spend the weekend in the Hamptons with her (much older, married) boyfriend, her world falls apart when he shows up at her apartment to break up with her.  Turns out he has not only a wife but a young daughter (that dirty rat!) and he has re-committed to them and can't see Shae anymore.  Brokenhearted, Shae ends up crying at a bar, only to be discovered by Lu (Nicole LaLiberte), a sexy bartender with an agenda (and a samurai sword, it turns out!)

Lu suggests that she and Shae take the town by storm, which basically means getting plastered enough to stumble out of a club with three horny guys. The girls follow them to their apartment (Really? Do girls still do this?) and while Lu is entertaining one of the guys, Shae - after being hit on multiple times - decides to go home.  One of the guys sees that she gets home safely and then proceeds to rape her in the hallway outside her apartment when she rebuffs his advances.

Instead of calling 911, Shae attempts to call her mother (who is a business woman too busy to talk to her) and then a friend, but with no one to confess her troubles to, she shows up at her married ex's home. He quickly dashes out of his brownstone so his family doesn't see Shae, but sensing she is still brooding over him, he takes her home and comes on way too strong, nearly making Shae a victim of another assault. 

So who does Shae turn to?  Well, Lu of course.  What we have pretty much figured out at this point is that Lu is somewhat unstable.  Maybe a LOT unstable.  Lu does take Shae to the police station to report the rape, but when a testosterone-heavy officer brushes Shae off by saying "you look alright to me", things take a major turn off the normal highway and fall straight into I Spit On Your Grave territory. 

The girls go off on a rampage, a killing spree in which they pretty much take out anyone that has done them wrong, and a few others simply because Lu enjoys it so much.  They hunt down Shae's rapist, tie him down, and cut off his legs. The oversexed policeman gets the gun to the crotch.  The ex-lover is shot in the woods, leaving the girls with a lovely Range Rover to tool around in.  (On a side-note, Shae's dead ex must have been a major fan of Donovan, as apparently his greatest hits blare from the CD player in the stolen Range Rover.  Sunshine Superman is a happy sing-a-long when the girls are contemplating a bit 'o murder and using a gun as a microphone, and Hurdy Gurdy Man sets a melancholy mood as the girls reflect on their deeds while driving down the highway with the night lights passing them by.)

No, I'm not giving too much away.  You can tell by the front of the alternate DVD cover and the first ten minutes of the film that they aren't holding anything back.  This film has revenge written all over it in plain view. 

What gives the film a bit of a bright spot is the weirdness that starts after Shae seemingly begins to move on from Lu.  Even after they have burned a weekend track of blood and guts through the area (with no one even remotely the wiser and crime-scene cleaners obviously on payroll), Shae is able to put aside the murders and go back to class, soon engaging in conversation with a nerdy yet charming guy. They spend an afternoon together at a carnival and seem to be having a great time. She genuinely likes the guy, you can tell.  It's probably more frightening knowing that Shae is able to put aside any guilt for the crimes and move on than it is knowing that Lu is out there looking for her next victim, just because she can.

When Shae comes home to her apartment after her date, Lu is waiting for her. 

I have to state the obvious.  This is not my first revenge-flick rodeo.  There really isn't a whole lot of mind-blowing fresh content here.  In fact, I think I may have seen this movie before - in dozens of other 'girls out for vengeance' flicks.  The director attempts to keep it contemporary by adding in the scenes of slow contemplation, where we see Shae stare off into space for countless minutes, but to be honest it just put me off.  Wasting all that time having Shae being pensive and aloof managed to make an under-90 minute film seem about three hours long. 

And the title! That ridiculous title! While it may suggest a real show-down between the sexes, it's nothing of the sort. It's women calling men pigs then shoving a gun in their junk.  That's nothing shocking or mind-altering. We've already seen this film, it just doesn't realize it.  The redundant tag line: "Bad girls don't cry. They get even." is so trite it pained me to write it just now.

I'm not sure what I can say to actually recommend Girls Against Boys.  The performances (in particular LaLiberte) were decent enough, and it certainly tries hard to make a social commentary regarding women and how men totally fuck them up and over on a regular basis, but the violence it displayed was nothing ground-breaking. Suffice it to say the film does have a certain feel to it, like it wanted to be more - to have more depth.  But in the end, it just ended up kind of 'meh' for me.

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