That's What She Said: Sundance Film Review

Distasteful in almost every respect, this overly weak comedy is destined for a brief shelf-life.

The raunchy comedy from director Carrie Preston stars Anne Heche.

PARK CITY — Distasteful, unpleasant and mostly not so funny, raunchy comedy That’s What She Said is a poor example of what women filmmakers can do when they decide to play like the boys. Female-leaning fests may consider programming this offbeat oddity, but otherwise it’s straight to DVD -- if a taker can even be found.

It’s finally the day of dumpy Bebe’s (Marcia De Bonis) big date with her new beau and she’s completely flustered trying to get all her preparations completed, so she calls on BFF Dee Dee (Anne Heche) for support. Hungover and definitely not a morning person, Dee Dee arrives late for their meetup at the appointed Manhattan café, only to find Bebe deep in conversation with distraught stranger Clementine (Alia Shawkat), who’s all weepy over a breakup with her boyfriend.

Turns out Clementine has more than the recent romantic trauma to overcome – she’s also an unstable sex addict who freaks out whenever she gets too stressed. Dee Dee has her own issues with drugs, booze and especially men even years after a particularly nasty breakup. They both make Bebe look halfway normal, despite her anxiety over her upcoming rendezvous with a guy she just barely knows. But a bad yeast infection, a disastrous haircut and a missed communication with her date make for a totally bummer day for Bebe. Traveling the length of Manhattan in a ridiculous attempt to prep Bebe for her big night, the three women encounter a bizarre series of misadventures that may bring them closer together – or make them frenemies for life.

Actor-director Carrie Preston (29th and Gay) and first-time screenwriter Kellie Overbey (adapting her stage play Girl Talk) perceptively anticipated the femme-raunch trend exemplified last year by Bridesmaids, but then completely overplay the comedy to an offputting degree. While somewhat sympathetic in a generic sense, these are not characters anyone would want to spend even 10 minutes with. Moreover, the elaborately comic situations they end up in feel awkwardly forced, as if selected from a list of stereotypical female foibles. Ironically for a film concerned with advocating women’s emotional solidarity, the entire plot mostly revolves around pleasing men.

Technical execution is adequate on a low budget, making the most of limited New York settings, although a misguided reliance on more obscure locations does not enhance the plot.

Venue: Sundance Film Festival, Next
Production company: Daisy 3 Pictures
Cast: Anne Heche, Marcia De Bonis, Alia Shawkat, Kellie Overbey, Kate Rigg, Marylouise Burke
Director: Carrie Preston
Screenwriter: Kellie Overbey
Producers: Joshua Astrachan, Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Mona Panchal, Carrie Preston
Director of photography: William Klayer
Production designer: Bobby Berg
Costumes: Meghan Kasperlik
Music: Mike Viola, Tim Adams
Editor: Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
No rating, 84 minutes