Plus-Sized Sisters Find Acceptance in Africa in Cross-Cultural Romantic Comedy
Rated PG-13 for sex, expletives, and crude humor.
Running time: 99 minutes
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Film Review by Kam Williams
Fair (1 star)
Jazmin Biltmore (Mo’Nique) is at war with the world. This plus-sized sister’s problems start with the fact that she works at a posh, L.A. clothing boutique frequented by thin women, and as Jazmin puts it, ’I hate skinny bitches!’ and it doesn't help that she ’Ain't been laid in nine months’ of her customers are accompanied by black men.
’If I see another brother with a white girl, I swear I’m gonna shoot somebody,’ she informs her equally-plump, best friend, Stacey (Kendra Johnson), just before another such couple shows up and an ugly scenes ensues.
Jazmin is further frustrated by the fact that she can't lose weight, despite trying every diet under the sun, and by strangers who feel free to pick on her just because of her size.
Luckily, she’s irrepressibly sassy and great at trading insults, so she’s quick to counter any criticism, like the lip she gets from the cashier at a Fatassburger Restaurant who objected to her ordering an unhealthy meal.
’you're so ugly, your birth certificate is an apology letter,’ she responds, followed by, ’you're so ugly, your momma got morning sickness after you were born.’
Jazzmin’s hope for happiness rests with achieving two elusive dreams: first, finding a clothing manufacturer willing to take a chance on a line she’s designed with big women in mind; and second, finding a mate who’ll accept her just as she is. This is the point of departure of Phat Girlz, a film which unfortunately fails to do a decent job of convincing the audience of its basic premise that being morbidly obese is a condition which deserves to be celebrated.
Sure, Jazzmin is quick to announce that ’PHAT’ stands for ’Pretty Hot And Thick’ or that ’FAT’ stands for ’Full And Tasty’ or ’Fluffy And Tender,’ yet conventional wisdom suggests that she’d be a lot better off not arrogantly over-indulging in so much junk food. In any case, her knight in shining armor arrives in the person of Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis), a ’spear-throwing, lion-hunting Mandingo with a big [bleep].’
Tunde, an M.D. from Nigeria, is in America with a couple of colleagues for a medical convention. He meets Jazzmin who won a vacation for three at the same Palm Springs resort. The African trio lavish their attentions on her and Stacey, while ignoring curvy, ’malnourished’ Mia (Joyful Drake) because in their culture, the bigger the better, since size determines a female’s social status.
Though sparks fly between Jazzmin and Tunde, the romance can't blossom due to the dictates of the Hollywood three-act formula. The illogical script has the grateful gal sabotaging the budding relationship and focusing on her designer career till she wises up and makes her way to the motherland with hopes of reconciliation.
Other than trash-talking Monique’s playing the dozens, there’s not much funny to recommend about this preposterously-plotted picture, unless you count the godawful makeup job performed on virtually every actor.
An Alternative Perspective:
The Hollywood movie industry judges the quality of a film or its message by its first week ticket sells. As people who are repeatedly misrepresented by the Hollywood establishment with endless negative imagery and stereotypes, we owe it to our selves to support positive films. The new film Phat Girlz by writer/director Negest Likke, is one of those exceptional films to grace the theaters with positive story and excellent production. She did her part and succeeded by bringing the movie in theaters near you. Now it is our turn to go out in mass and vote in our hard earned money to support the future production of such films in Hollywood. If the studios see our buying power, future directors with a positive African message will be embraced by the studios; however, if we [fail] to support Phat Girlz and instead watch the ICE AGE or The Inside Man, remember that you also forfeit any chance to complain against Hollywood’s misrepresentation of Africa. So this is our opportunity to do right things in two fold: have fun and make a statement.
I have seen the film and I loved it. I am definitely sure that you will do the same. Since it matters, please do it soon or better yet tonight or tomorrow will be best.
Attached herewith, you will find a list of theaters that the movie is being shown. So, select the nearest theater and go. Then, share it among your friends and family members. Also, pass it to your entire African email list.
Remember, we will not get this opportunity again soon, so please do your part by casting your vote at the theaters near you.