[box cover]


In the world of horror and comedy there's a Rule of Inverse Derivation — that is to say, bad horror films are funny and bad comedies are mortifying. Though labeled a comedy, Tomcats is about as funny as The Sorrow and The Pity. The premise of the film is that five longtime friends put a pool of money into a well-invested account that will be claimed by whomever is a bachelor the longest. And when the fat friend (Horatio Sanz) finally gets married, it becomes a battle between leading man Michael (Jerry O'Connell) and woman-abusing Kyle (Jake Busey) to seize the booty, now $500,000. But when Michael runs up a huge debt to a gangster (Bill Maher, the comic highlight of the film), the bachelor prize seems his only solution. Michael finds Natalie (Shannon Elizabeth), the one girl who got away from Kyle, and he thus sets the pair up — only to find himself falling for her instead. It's surprising that Tomcats was written and directed by a man, Gregory Poirer (who began his career writing porno scripts, which is about the level of the dialogue here), as the male characters come across as one-dimensional targets for the rage of female rape victims. They are unsympathetic, unpleasant, and led around by their John Thomases, yet not for one second resembling everyday American guys. The women in Tomcats make even less of an impression, but it's the writer/director's fault that the film plays like bad dinner theater. For a sex comedy, the entire affair might be somehow redeemed if it featured excessive nudity, but though the film is entirely about sex (and a grandmother shoves a strap-on where the sun don't shine), it's missing that crucial ingredient of gratuitous boobies — which is especially disappointing, considering it stars Shannon Elizabeth, whose entire career is based on her doffing her top and masturbating in American Pie. Tomcats attempts to top the grossness of recent gross-out comedies (such as Scary Movie, which was trying to top the sensationalism of There's Something about Mary), but the gags have become so over-the-top and belabored that they cause only pain. How painful, you ask? At one point Kyle has a cancerous testicle removed, which he wants to keep (to turn it into a key chain). So he sends Michael to go fetch it, but Mike drops the container and has to chase the malignant testis around the hospital. The punch line is that the doctor who removed the testicle ends up eating it. Eating it. One wonders if the people who made this film actually think that's funny. Or a character getting knocked cold by a woman expelling a bowling ball from her vagina. Or if they think their audience is just that stupid. Tomcats transcends the limitations of comedy and enters a land of sheer terror — it's a strange new form of torture for anybody who isn't enfeebled by multiple paint huffings. Columbia TriStar's DVD offers both anamorphic (1.85:1) and full-frame transfers, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Theatrical trailers, keep-case.

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