Love Stinks (1999)

(On VHS, September 2000) How do you make a satiric romantic comedy? Hmmm… Oh, you could make the female character a total bitch and the male protagonist a complete wuss. Hmm… But then you’d get an often-unfunny film with repellent relents of misogyny and general nastiness: While the screenwriter’s intent is obviously to show the relationship-from-hell, it’s simply too unbelievable to be enjoyable. (The portrait of women as marriage-hunting schematrixes and men as commitment-phobic might be fun for a good-natured jab or two, but it grates when it goes on for ninety minutes) Unexpectedly enough, the flatulence gag is among the film’s funniest moment (“Olé!”) Granted, Love Stinks has a few redeeming qualities (The supporting characters are good, there are scattered laughs and the ending is fun) but it’s more interesting to imagine how to improve the film than to watch it as is. Or, alternatively, to use it as a centerpiece in a thesis proving that good humor is designed to make you comfortable, not uneasy.

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