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Scratching Rock Bottom

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 30, 2001


    'Tomcats' Jerry O'Connell in "Tomcats." (Revolution Studios)
Every few months, the bar is raised – okay, lowered – in the contest to see how far Hollywood will go to make you toss your cookies. At times, it doesn't seem like movies can achieve any further debasement in the gross-out sweepstakes.

And then along comes "Tomcats."

There is a scene in this movie (and I use the term loosely) that makes the infamous zipper and "hair gel" scenes in "There's Something About Mary" seem positively quaint. It involves an errant, surgically removed testicle . . . an errant, surgically removed cancerous testicle, I might add. Now, this plot device has been employed by first-time director Gregory Poirier (who also "wrote" the threadbare, puerile script about a group of priapic, twentysomething males) for no other reason than the payoff, a sight gag so nauseating that laughter is out of the question. It's hard to chuckle when you're trying not to upchuck. Said scene involves the misplacement of said body part in a hospital cafeteria – and here I'll stop and insist that you imagine what follows.

See, right here I've done a valuable public service. I've just warned off the half of you with good sense and common decency while simultaneously making the other half with neither taste nor shame crazy with desire to see this latest entry in the Monday-morning water-cooler vulgara-thon.

It would be one thing if the darned movie were funny, too.

Alas, it is merely repugnant – to women, naturally, who are largely depicted as walking, talking (okay, scratch the talking part) sex organs and mammary glands, but also to those men whose brains do not reside in their boxers.

The story is this: Michael (Jerry O'Connell) has a $51,000 gambling debt to mobster Carlos (a wisely uncredited Bill Maher). In order to come up with the money, he has to marry off his womanizing buddy Kyle (Jake Busey), so that Michael can claim the pot in a kind of long-standing matrimonial tontine. Seven years earlier, Michael, Kyle and their circle of horny, brain-dead pals created a fund that would go to the last remaining bachelor. Smartly invested, it's now worth a half-million dollars, and Michael and Jerry are the only two single guys left.

Aiding Michael in his scheme is Natalie (Shannon Elizabeth), an old girlfriend of Kyle's seeking revenge on him for dumping her. Before long, Michael starts falling for Natalie himself.

How do we know he's falling in love? Because of the volume of genetic material he produces while fantasizing about her at a sperm bank.

Oh yeah, it's that kind of movie.

Go expecting the very worst. Just don't expect to laugh.

"Tomcats" (R, 92 minutes) – Contains countless instances of obscenity, sex, nudity, gun violence and gross-out humor of such wide variety that it beggars description.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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