Phat Girlz

on April 07, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
Fat girls need love too. This is the central sentiment of "Phat Girlz," the debut film to topline actress/comedienne Mo'Nique, star of the sitcom "The Parkers." Size is everything in this lighthearted comedy about being heavy. The movie is not much more than an homage to beauty in bigness, and if chirpy one-liners about being large and in charge bug you, imagine a whole movie full of them. In any case, "Phat Girlz" is a cute, wishful (if not delusional) movie that explores the travails of being a plus-size woman in a world where bigger is not better: the fashion industry. When plus-size fashion designer Jazmin Biltmore (Mo'Nique) and her zaftig buddy Stacey (Kendra C. Johnson) head to Palm Springs to shop their wares, the duo find themselves the subject of interest of two gorgeous African men, Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis), who looks like he stepped right out of a Benetton ad, and his friend, Akibo (Godfrey of "Soul Plane"), another hottie. Not only are they beautiful men of color, they're doctors, and, apparently, in Nigeria, big gals are what the handsome doctors all go for.

This is all very endearing, if not utterly predictable. Mo'Nique plays this role pretty much the way she plays every role -- as Mo'Nique, the larger-than-life comedienne whose sole interests are food, men and cute cloths. This is not groundbreaking stuff, nor is it even particularly original thinking about the subject of the human physical condition, like, say, a film like "Shallow Hal," which actually offers some useful and honest insights about the subject while being funny. "Phat Girlz" is just a movie about big girls trying build self-esteem by loving themselves; of course, in movies, self-esteem comes through the admiration of men adoring them as they are, no matter how much of them there is, which is a dubious logic at best. But it's funny in any case. Starring Mo'Nique, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Godfrey, Kendra C. Johnson, Joyful Drake, Jack Noseworthy and Eric Roberts. Directed and written by Nnegest Likke. Produced by Steven Imes, Robert Newmyer and Steven J. Wolfe. A Fox Searchlight release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language, including some crude sexual references. Running time: 99 min

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