Loving Jezebel

2000, Movie, R, 86 mins

Review

LOVING JEZEBEL
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A romantic comedy that's trying its damnedest to be cute and endearing and might be more successful if it weren't built on a foundation of barely-concealed misogyny. Aspiring writer/clown/something-or-other Theodorous Melville (Hill Harper) has a terrible romantic track record: He's always getting dumped and dissed by girls, and beat on by jealous guys. Of course, the guys are the husbands and boyfriends of Theo's lady friends, which puts things in a different light. What a hound dog, you're saying, this guy who's always hitting on his friends' girlfriends. But no, no, no...it's not like that. It's the women's fault — why do you think the title calls them jezebels? They don't tell Theo about their boyfriends, or they mislead him about the state of their relationships, or they're in an "off" phase of an on-again/off-again relationship that suddenly comes back to life. It's not Theo's doing — really. His conquests include high school crush Nina (Heather Gottlieb); college sweetie Frances (Nicole Ari Parker), a luscious loon with "Fatal Attraction" written all over her; fickle, exotic Mona (Sandrine Holt), with whom Theo manages to two-time not one, but two friends; and Samantha (Laurel Holloman), the love of his life, who has the misfortune to be married to the volatile Gabe (David Moscow). With the exception of Mona, there isn't an out-and-out jezebel in the bunch; but they're all some combination of flaky, deceitful, self-centered or just plain crazy. Harper is charming (though spectacularly unconvincing as a 17-year-old) and Holt is a stunner; you don't wonder why she's got everyone's good intentions in a knot. But first-time feature writer/director Kwyn Bader's script is all clichßs, and he doesn't even seem to have tried to make the women into real characters; they're just temptation on the hoof, fodder for Theo's pity party. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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