By GUY FLATLEY
Paul Rudd, Rachel Weisz, Gretchen Mol, Frederick Weller
a sexy feminist Art major, disapproves of the fig leaf adorning
a statue in the campus museum and is about to express her disapproval
with a spray can. When another studenta nerd who works part-time
as a museum guardapproaches her and attempts to persuade her
to put down that can, she throws him a curve. First, she induces
him to peep behind the leaf at the concealed bulge of male anatomy,
and then she makes it clear that she will do her duty as a feminist
and, yes, press the spray button. Obviously, this could be the start
of something big. And it is. Soon feminist artiste Evelyn has student/guard
Adam in her steel grip, defenseless and spineless as a hunk of clay.
What is this"American Pie Goes to College"? No,
its the latest chapter in writer-director Neil LaButes
chronicle of the war between the sexes. This time, the female (Rachel
Weisz as Evelyn) is the venomous aggressor, manipulating, tricking
and betraying Adam (Paul Rudd). Here are a few of the things Evelyn
does to Adam: she allows him to take a shot at playing the hot stud,
but only on the condition that their bedroom romps be videotaped;
she sneaks behind his back and lures his best friend into the sack,
and then breaks up the friendship; she persuades him to have a nose
job he most certainly does not need; and she humiliates him at a
college art show by baring the secretsmost notably, the videotaped
ones--of their relationship. Its okay, though, because everything
shes done has been for her thesis. And presumably she gets
an A+ for her efforts.
It would be a pleasure, but also a gross distortion of the truth,
to report that this portrait of the artist as a young bitch packed
the brilliant malice of LaButes "In the Company of Men"
and "Your Friends & Neighbors," those twin chamber
dramas that prompted us to stand up and scream "male chauvinist
pig." Or that it contained even a shred of "Nurse Bettys"
engagingly dark nuttiness. "The Shape of Things," based
on LaButes modest stage success, comes close to making "Possession,"
his sappy 2002 misfire, look sharp.
The actors, including Frederick Weller and Gretchen Mol as the cheating
friend and his fiancee, do what they can with the humorless, one-dimensional
material, but its not nearly enough. Lets hope this
nasty, predictable and punishing film is not a portent of things
to come from LaBute, who not so long ago seemed to be among our
most promising directors.