Slap Her...She's French!

on January 09, 2005 by Luisa F. Ribeiro
   A bright, sticky teen comedy that one hesitates to call a legit coming-of-age tale, the best thing about "Slap Her, She's French!" may be its lively title. But that would be unfair to Jane McGregor (MTV's "Live Through This") who cuts a delightfully fine figure as a ruthlessly ambitious teen beauty queen of Splendora, Texas, whose conniving machinations to become a news broadcaster are threatened by the arrival of a mysterious French foreign exchange student (Piper Perabo of "Coyote Ugly"). For all its enthusiastic mockery of the lifestyles of the dumb and dumber, "Slap Her" grows exhaustingly foolish as it gallops frenetically on into its glaring Texas sunset.

   In danger of losing the Splendora Beef Pageant to one of her hypocritically devoted best friends, Starla Grady (McGregor) takes the desperate plunge of offering to house an exchange student to demonstrate her unselfish generosity. Not. When the plain, unpretentious Genevieve LePlouff (Perabo) arrives from Paris, Starla sweeps her under her wing to show her how the little people live and how the better people rule. Hardly the demure wallflower Starla believes her to be, Genevieve takes her host's self-absorption and thoughtless cruelty to heart and, in a shocking series of events, turns Starla's secure little world into a nightmare.

   As far as it goes, there are some genuinely humorous spots throughout "Slap Her," yet despite director Melanie Mayron's peppy pace and candy colored set-ups, the script falls back on too many tried-and-true shenanigans that hardly distinguish it from the next teen comedy. Although Perabo, who showed some fine acting chops in "Lost and Delirious," is starred, her abilities (if not her figure) are fairly wasted in the secondary role as Genevieve. Jesse James ("As Good As It Gets") as Starla's shrewd little brother Randolph fares better. But its truly McGregor's show and she displays flashes of real comic acuity, however hackneyed the material, making the most of Starla's journey from spoiled rich princess to--well, older and wiser spoiled princess. Hopefully "Slap Her" will help McGrgeor land something a little more worthy of her comic potential. Starring Piper Perabo and Jane McGregor. Directed by Melanie Mayron. Written by Lamar Damon and Robert Lee King. Produced by Beau Flynn, Jonathan King and Matthias Emcke. A Premiere release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor, drug content and language. Running time: 91 min

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