A/V Room









She Hate Me (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Spike Lee commentary. Deleted scenes. Behind the scenes featurette.

SPIKE Lee is never one to do anything by half measures. For his last film, The 25th Hour, he tackled a drug dealer who was attempting to put his life in order on his final day before prison, and set it against the backdrop of a New York attempting to cope with the recent attacks of September 11.

His latest, She Hate Me, sees Lee taking on the over-sized corporations of the US (such as Enron, etc), while simultaneously tackling issues of ethics, race and sex, in the form of a lead character who attempts to get out of difficult financial times by becoming a sperm donor for a long list of maternal lesbians.

Sound absurd? You bet, but there's no denying the curiosity value in seeing how events unfold, particularly as Lee has assembled another stellar support cast, in the form of Woody Harrelson, John Turturro, Monica Bellucci, Brian Dennehy and Ellen Barkin.

The only trouble is, once you emerge the other side of it, you're likely to feel as uncomfortable as an overdue mother, due to the film's wayward plotting and dubious conclusions.

The film starts promisingly enough, as Anthony Mackie's Harvard-educated biotech executive, John Henry 'Jack' Armstrong, discovers that his company is bilking investors and employees out of their stock investments, following the suicide of a leading scientist, and promptly informs on his bosses.

His actions initiate an investigation into the company's business dealings by the Securities and Exchange Commission, prompting him to be fired and framed as the fall-guy, upon which he is also cut off financially.

A visit by his ex-girlfriend, Fatima (Kerry Washington), however, offers a way out of the nightmare.

If he will agree to become a sperm donor for Fatima and her lesbian lover, Alex (Dania Ramirez), he can earn himself $10,000 in easy money, so long as he physically sleeps with at least one of them.

Casting his feelings aside, Anthony does the deed, only to find himself bombarded by maternal lesbians seeking the same service, and he reluctantly agrees to sleep with each of them, signing away his father's rights into the process.

As time passes, however, his conscience catches up with him, and he gradually comes to examine the morality of his new-found career-choice, while also fending off the investigation into his former company.

Yet, for all of the intriguing scenarios Lee's film puts forward, the delivery is so sloppy that much of the impact is lost amid the crassness.

Lee rams his message home with all the subtlety of a drunken one-night stand, tossing in images of animated sperm, orgasmic lesbians and caricatured Mafia-men and corporate bosses into the bargain.

As a result, the film seems more absurd than satirical, and quickly outstays its welcome.

What's more, it feels like a terrific waste of talent, given the big names the director has managed to assemble.

Harrelson, for instance, is an unlikely company boss, while Ellen Barkin is far too one-dimensional as his career-fixated right-hand woman.

Bellucci veers towards embarrassing as one of the lesbians seeking Mackie's assistance, while Turturro's Mob boss provides more laughs than menace, especially when delivering a comic take on The Godfather.

Had Lee cut down on the big name support, and kept things more intimate, this might not have seemed like such an overblown failure.

But as it stands, it's an ambitious but hopelessly flawed fiasco that even straddles the boundaries of good taste.

By the time his pregnant mothers start delivering amid a chorus of screams towards the movie's unsatisfying climax, you might just feel like joining them.

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