The theatrical roots of
Girl Play (it is based on a play called Real Girls which was
written by the stars of the film) are on full display in this film. In
fact, it seems to be not so much a movie as a play caught on videotape with
only occasional flashbacks and views of the scenes we are being described to
cut through the endless chatter.
Essentially Girl Play
is just two actresses named Robin Greenspan and Lacie Harmon playing two
actresses named Robin Greenspan and Lacie Harmon and ruminating at length
about how they fell in love with each other while working on the play.
Robin is a neurotic Jewish
woman, unhappily "married" to a girlfriend for six years, but deathly afraid
of being alone. Lacie on the other hand is more of a loner, she loves
picking up women at bars and has recently broken off a relationship with a
lover when she realizes that she'd rather be alone than with her lover.
Slowly, but surely, we watch these two long-time platonic friends work
together and fight their growing attraction to each other.
The two narrate the whole
story -- literally almost everything that happens on screen is described in
great detail by one or both of them. We learn what was happening
through this narration (though a lot of the time we're watching it, I think
we can figure it out), what they were feeling, what the ramifications were,
who else knows about it, what they had for lunch that day, who was on last
week's episode of The L-Word.
Many of these soliloquies
are extremely well-written. They are funny and clever. They are
about a lifestyle that does not get enough exposure. But the speeches
go on way too long. In fact, it almost seems like we have two stand-up
comediennes (which both of these stars were before their theatrical act)
doing dueling monologues. These two were obviously absent from the
"show-don't-tell" class of their screenwriting workshop.
It falls upon our actresses to keep the energy
from flagging and they are only sometimes up to the heavy lifting.
While in many parts they are perfectly likable, both actresses have bad habits
that they tend to fall into. Greenspan has a tendency to go cutely
over the top, making sure to mug and go that extra mile to capture the audience's
attention. As a former stand-up, she also has an unfortunate tendency
to pause after a joke for the laugh -- which might be okay in a little
theater but just doesn't play on screen. Harmon, on the other hand, has a weird way of seeming
smugly self-impressed, like she knows what she is doing is brilliant
and she hopes you're smart enough to realize how clever she is. (Oddly
for a lesbian love story, Harmon's attitude occasionally seemed spookily
like that of George W. Bush.)
The film never seems to know
what it wants to be. Romantic comedy? Check. Long
(sometimes almost unending) soliloquies about love and fidelity? It's
there. Cutesy story of a daughter trying to connect with her
out-of-touch mother? Yep. Behind-the-scenes theatrical drama?
It's there. One ready-for-Cinemax softcore lesbian scene? Got
There -- for no other reason
than to be semi-celebrities and to overact even more consistently than our
stars -- are Dom Deluise (as an old queen of a director) and Mink Stole (as
Robin's over-the-top Jewish mom -- she makes Lainie Kazan seem subtle).
The two have little to do though, as do Katherine Randolph and Lauren Maher
who are very good, but underused,
as the spurned exes.
The story of Girl Play
is mostly rather interesting. For the most part, the two stars are
rather charming and likable hosts. I wish they just had the bravery to
allow the story to unfold rather than map out every single step and emotion.
There was really no reason to be so married to every word of the stage play. What works onstage doesn't necessarily take flight on film.
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 11, 2005.