Sorority Boys
review by Gregory Avery, 22 March 2002

At the men's frat house in Sorority Boys, the guys are happily partying, drinking beer, making out with girls, and teasing the ladies over at the sorority house next door, merrily contriving a slingshot that sends various colorful sexual appliances zinging through their windows. (The girls just pick them up and drop them in a basket by the front stoop.) The guys just think they're having fun, while the girls, particularly sorority president Leah (Melissa Sagemiller), see it as being crass and demeaning to women: she hands out fliers warning girls not to go into the parties because they're being exploited by the guys. (The girls go in, anyway.)

Then, three of the guys at the disreputable men's fraternity -- Dave (Barry Watson), Adam (Michael Rosenbaum), and the broad-shouldered Doofer (Harland Williams), who asserts his coming-of-age by wearing a little plastic lula girl on a string around his neck -- are ostracized, for something they didn't do, so, until they can get things straightened-out, they end up seeking refuge, for only a few days, at the neighboring girls' sorority house, disguising themselves as girls -- three very tall girls, "from Minnesota". Thus do they realize some hard truths about the mysteries of the feminine mystique -- that sexual harassment isn't fun, that guys who won't take "no" for an answer while hitting on girls can be a real drag, and how hard it is to find off-the-rack clothing that fits. "Why can't they design a dress for girls who have a big caboose?" says Dave, piqued, while trying to find something to wear and only coming up with skimpy little pieces of nothing.

Sorority Boys, which Wally Wolodarsky directed from an original screenplay by Joe Jarvis and Greg Coolidge, is sophomoric, sometimes raunchy (there is a fight where two of the guys battle it out between each other while armed with dildos -- I can just imagine how this scene was pitched to studio executives: "And, the really funny thing is, one of them's purple, while the other one is lime green!"), and the jokes don't fire as well as they're supposed to. (The male fraternity is Kappa Omicron Kappa, or KOK, while the female sorority is Delta Omicron Gamma, or DOG -- that's about as good as the jokes get.) But it's amiable, and it basically has its heart in the right place: it doesn't try to be funny while dumping on all the characters, like some of the more dubious film comedies of last year, and it keeps things fairly light. The scenes between Michael Rosenbaum and Melissa Sagemiller are obvious cadged from the ones Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange played in Tootsie, scenes which, especially towards the end of that film, made stone-cold friends of mine profoundly moved, so at least the makers of Sorority Boys are stealing from the best.

The three leads perform perfectly well -- they may be wearing dresses and heels in public, but they do so proudly and they don't take guff from anyone -- and there is also some enjoyable work from Brad Beyer,  who, as the head of the fraternity house, knits his brow together and tries to look and sound decisive while delivering judgment despite the fact that his voice is still changing registers; and Heather Matarazzo, who's baffled over what to do about the shrill sound of her voice and laugh, which turns people off, and which makes it sound even worse. Tony Denham also appears as a pint-sized Lothario who apparently gets results with come-on lines like, "So, you sexy she-devil...!"

When the jokes do go-off right, they're choice: when one of the guys whips off his wig to prove that he's a he, one of his sorority sisters (Yvonne Scio), who had been convinced otherwise, still doesn't quite get it: "Oh, my Lord! You LOOK like a MAN!" And, having grown up with an older sister, I can fully relate to the scene where Harland Williams draws the unenviable duty of cleaning the sorority house bathroom, including the drain in the sink. It's one of those aspects of the female mystery that guys are spared from until they get married and start raising a family in close quarters, and one of the reasons why, when still in college and intemperate youth, they party hearty while they can.

Directed by:
Wally Wolodarsky

Starring:
Barry Watson
Michael Rosenbaum
Harland Williams
Melissa Sagemiller
Brad Beyer
Heather Matarazzo

Written by:
Joe Jarvis
Greg Coolidge

Rated:
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
accompanying parent
or adult guardian.

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