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A hairy scene from Girls Will Be Girls. (courtesy photo)

Dudes in dresses does not a campy favorite make

The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hairspray managed to become cult classics because of moronic plots, stilted dialogue, and hyperbolic performances. With Girls Will Be Girls, Richard Day has attempted to manufacture an instant cult classic. The history of both art and religion teaches us that no object is so bizarre that someone will not end up venerating it. Yet despite its moronic plot, stilted dialogue, and hyperbolic performances, Girls Will Be Girls seems unlikely to become anything but a case study in bad intentions and limp execution. A burlesque of Hollywood melodrama, it is over the top and under the belt, flailing at puny organs.

The running joke - not witty enough to sustain this diarrhetic marathon - in Girl Will Be Girls is that the three "girls" who are its protagonists are in fact played by men. Evie (Plotnick) is an embittered alcoholic who once starred in a wretched sci-fi flick called Asteroid, Coco (Leupp) is a failed actress still in love with her college abortion doctor, and Varla (Roberson) is a gluttonous emigree from Arkansas determined to make it as a movie star. The three share a house in southern California and mutual rancors and resentments. "Feelings are like treasures," says Varla to Evie, who is jealous of the newcomer's burgeoning movie career. "So bury them."

Girls Will Be Girls

Writ. & dir. Richard Day; feat. Jack Plotnick, Clinton Leupp, Jeffery Roberson, Ron Mathews, Eric Stonestreet, Hamilton von Watts, Dana Gould (R)
Would that this movie, where hearts are worn on sleeves, bloodying the blouses, took her advice. Girls Will Be Girls consists of a series of short anecdotes introduced by printed titles such as "Tea and backstory," "Starlet fever," and "Give peace enough rope." The story culminates in a grandiose confrontation at a TV studio in which all the girls are reconciled.

Of course, boys played girls in Shakespeare's plays, studies in the fluidity of identity, because of Elizabethan reluctance to see women reviled by displaying themselves on stage. But this misogynistic macedoine revels in belittling and demeaning its female characters. Girls Will Be Girls seems to be appealing to a certain kind of gay sensibility that delights in the spectacle of men disguised as women kissing other men, but it is an exercise in heterophobia that would not get screened if it bashed gays as brutally as it bashes straights. As a soap opera about Hollywood careerists, Girls Will Be Girls goes beyond The Valley of the Dolls, even beyond Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, into canyons of campy rubbish that no soap can scrub clean. •

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