15 May 2004 | the_match_maker
When 'separate but equal' worlds collide.
Webster's New World Dictionary defines the word retarded' as: 'slow or delayed in development, esp mentally.'
The movie's setup is certainly different from the typical boy meets girl' formula. We've all seen the nerd gets girl' bit. Well, this time it's taken to the next level' if you will. The plot revolves around a stereotypical prom queen' type of sorority girl falling in love with a mentally (and physically) handicapped boy, and how everything she once held dear falls apart because of it.
This is the sort of project that Christina Ricci has made a career out of doing. Namely, dark comedies. She plays against type insofar as she's considered a rather edgy' actress, yet her role in this flick is that of the popular girl'. A role in which is has obvious fun lampooning.
The subject matter would make one think that this would be a conventional straight drama, but it isn't, which is perhaps what elevates it above what could be typical tearjerker schlock. The film never takes itself too seriously, there's always a bit of winking' involved. Take for instance when Ricci's character tries to kill herself by overdosing on Night Quill and Pepto-Bismol-only to succeed in making herself sick to her stomach.
However, while satirical, it does make good points on how the general public view and think about the mentally handicapped. How beneath the platitudes and seeming self sacrifice, most people still view them as unequal' to the rest of us-people to whom mouth service is given, but true acceptance of is never a genuine consideration.
The way everyone turns on Ricci's character (her friends, her boyfriend, her parents) when it's made clear her feelings for her special friend'-it's very poignant and very real (if not also very farcical). And one supposes that it's because of that blatant bias of others that make her make out scenes with said special friend' so satisfying. She not only accepts him, but accepts him as a woman accepts a man. One has to admit, there's something oddly esoteric about seeing her have an implied sex scene with a retard'. It sort of warms the cockles of one's heart.
Off beat' is the best way to quantify this film. It toes the line between full-blown farce and full on drama. Satirical yet genuine. And this is coming from a guy that usually avoids these types of flicks like the Bubonic Plague!