Release Date: April 7th, 2006 by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
The Cast: Mo’nique, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Godfrey, Kendra C. Johnson, Joyful Drake, Jack Noseworthy, Eric Roberts.
Directed by Nnegest Likké.
BASIC PREMISE: Jazmin (Mo’nique) and Stacey (Johnson), two plus-sized friends, spend a weekend in Palm Springs, where Jazmin falls in love with a hunky Nigerian man named Tunde (Jean-Louis).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Phat Girlz fails as a comedy, drama and even as a romance. Mo’nique’s energetic performance can’t save the film from awkwardly-edited and stilted scenes involving physical comedy. The by-the-numbers screenplay includes a first act which shows the two plus-size characters, Jazmin and Stacey, being humiliated for their looks. Mia (Drake), Jazmin’s mean-spirited, slim cousin, is only there as strong competition for them. When Jazmin wins a trip to Palm Springs in a sweepstakes, she brings Stacey with her, but Mia ends up tagging along as well. Soon enough, at the resort, Jazmin meets Tunde, a Nigerian doctor who prefers plus-sized women. Will Jazmin overcome her low-self esteem about her body and finally end up with Tunde? Jazmin’s character is too one-dimensional to actually care about the answer to that question. First-time writer/director Nnegest Likké shoots in high-definition digital without adding any reality to the contrived scenes. On a positive note, the soundtrack does include some great songs that keep you somewhat engaged. If only the film itself were just as entertaining.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Phat Girlz’s positive message is that plus-sized women can be beautiful, too. The media often dictates what should be considered beautiful, but, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Real Women Have Curves explored this very same message with much more poignancy and insightfulness.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Stilted, unfunny script and a contrived, predictable plot.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 6
IN A NUTSHELL: Unfunny, awkward and contrived with poorly-directed scenes.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: TV
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