“Girl-power, through accidental death and penguins.”
When Jamie (Bowen) accidentally kills her unpleasant boyfriend, it seems her life is over. Luckily, the first person on the scene is Laura (Lords), a latent psychopath who seizes the chance to fulfill her lifelong ambition: killing men who treat women badly. As she says, “Ridding the world of irredeemable men is what I was born to do.” Neither Jamie nor the third initiate into their little secret, Arlene (Maxey), are quite as enthusiastic, but despite this, Laura sets to work with a vengeance, and things start spiralling out of control.
As a black comedy, this works pretty well, even if it’s more a mid-grey than true black; it tries to have its cake and still keep Jamie sympathetic. The necessary convolutions weaken things substantially, and you can’t go at the genre anything less than full-throttle. There is one glorious moment, involving penguins, which reaches the necessary level of dark absurdity; otherwise, Lords is the only one to grab onto her part and go for it with the necessary gusto. She delivers even the most banal lines, such as ordering food in a diner, with remarkable zest, though I leave readers to consider the irony inherent in a former underage porn starlet playing someone out to kill abusive men…
And, make no mistake: the men here are shallow and loathsome. I think writer Amy Kiehl (who cameos as a waitress) must have had some very bad experiences with the male sex; one character goes from his introduction, to us yelling, “Die! Die!” at the TV, to his demise in under five minutes. If why Jamie hasn’t genuinely murdered her boyfriend is never explained, a certain amount of comedic exaggeration is par for the course in this kind of film. It’s a pleasant diversion, rather than anything more or less satisfactory.
Dir: Antoni Stutz
Star: Julie Bowen, Traci Lords, Dawn Maxey, Neal McDonough
a.k.a. You’re Killing Me