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Body Shots

Body Shots is an interesting, ambitious failure. Imagine if Swingers had been a lot harder on its characters, or if a seasonal arc of Friends featured the rape and its aftermath of the Rachel character, and you have Body Shots. Released in the fall of 1999, the film was promoted as if it were another The Graduate, when in fact it is a moralistic critique of unsympathetic hedonistic youth, a less amusing or vividly cast Go. Produced (surprisingly) by actor Michael Keaton, the film is directed by Michael Cristofer, an actor-director-writer who had a go at misguided beautiful self-destructive youth in the HBO fashion-model movie Gia (the script is credited to David McKenna, whose filmography ranges from American History X to the 2000 Get Carter). What's interesting about the film is that it is so anti-youth, and it creates a situation in which their corruption is highlighted when they fail to make the right moral choices. But Body Shots ultimately is a failure because the characters are uniformly unpleasant, shallow (though most are meant to be), and unmemorable. Without our liking at least some of them, their moral choices don't make us squirm. The ostensible lead is Sean Patrick Flanery, who plays a lawyer named Rick. He and his football-star buddy Michael (Jerry O'Connell) have a date to meet up with two other fellows, the official "nice guy" weakling (Brad Rowe) and his dorky pal Trent (Ron Livingston of Office Space). Their plan is to meet up with four girls some of them are loosely affiliated with: the lawyer Jane (Amanda Peet), whom Rick has a crush on; blond, pampered party-girl Sara (Tara Reid); her near-twin, the older blond Whitney (Emily Procter), and the sad-sack Emma (Sybil Temchen). They all gather at an exclusive club where the special feature is shots of liquor in cups of Jello (the film was once known as "Jello Shots," as well as "Last Night" and "The Night Before"). Partners are switched, complications ensue, and the reckless and egotistical footballer goes off with Sara (we learn this within the first few minutes of the film) whom she later accuses of raping her. At this point, the movie changes rather dramatically, coming off like an episode of Law and Order after the other hijinks, which include one character having unexpected sex with another outdoors, and yet another having comical sex with one who proves to be a dominatrix, and much use of the now clichéd technique of having the characters address the camera as if a documentary were being made about them (a trick that goes all the way back to Ingmar Bergman). In any case, the date-rape portion of the story peters out inconclusively, and two shaken characters are left not knowing how to connect with each other. In terms of story, Body Shots offers a lot more raw content than American viewers have been used to of late, but the concurrent reach for poignancy doesn't come off. Nonetheless, New Line has released a nice enough DVD edition of Body Shots, which people are more likely to watch on television anyway. This disc offers four versions of the film: the original rated version, in a virtually flawless anamorphic widescreen transfer (2.35:1) and a full-frame version, as well as an unrated version, also in widescreen and full-frames. The unrated version has about two extra minutes of footage, which expands two almost-graphic sex scenes. The widescreen versions highlight Rodrigo Garca's efficient cinematography. Audio is in both Dolby Digital 5.1 (in English) and Dolby 2.0 Surround, with closed-captioning. However, except for some rain effects and the disco sequences, there isn't really much call for the 5.1. Extras consist of the theatrical trailer and cast-and-crew credits. Snap-case.
—D.K. Holm



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