Movie Magazine International

Body Shots

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Casey McCabe

With a bad title and a relatively unknown cast, the new movie "Body Shots" needs all the help it can get to bust out from the glut of fall releases. But New Line Cinema's promotional strategy borders on sheer cruelty. According to the film's portentous trailer "Body Shots" does nothing less than define the decade. It even cites its decade defining predecessors, "The Graduate," "Saturday Night Fever" and "The Breakfast Club."

In other words, there is now no fair way to review this movie. So I have no choice but to be cruel myself. This film will never be a cultural touchstone as in “man, that is so, you know.....Body Shots." It will probably disappear completely from consciousness no later than November. The reason is simple: the film has nothing to say. I pray that this was a failure of the filmmakers and not the defining statement of the 90s after all.

"Body Shots" is about a roughly 24 hour period in the lives 8 twenty-something characters living in Los Angeles. Four are men. Four are women. They all come together one night at a hot LA nightclub and proceed to pair off. The dramatic crux of the film is a claim of date rape involving one of the couples. Then again, both of them were too drunk to accurately recall anything and this is what passes for irony in "Body Shots."

The film is predominantly about sex. And like most films that make this conscious decision, it isn't very sexy. But more painfully, it isn't anywhere near as profound as it wants to be. The notion that men are rutting pigs, but women are sexual animals, too, is treated here like a genuine revelation. And what passes for a moral in Body Shots is that the pursuit of sex often masks a yearning for a deeper, more elusive intimacy. Just in case that never occurred to you.

In the absence of a story, a riveting character or any sense of true gravity, we get teases and flashbacks and cinematographer's tricks, and characters suddenly talking to the camera, confessing innermost thoughts that are occasionally amusing but rarely deeper than a teaspoon.

If I had to guess, I'd have said "Body Shots" was the directoral debut of a recent LA film school graduate, convinced that just being hip and beautiful in Los Angeles is enough story to begin with. But in fact the director is Michael Cristofer, a veteran theater pro with many lofty stage and screen awards to his credit. This just makes the film even more baffling to me. But then I've always defined a decade as a period of ten years, so what the hell do I know?

© 1999 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 10/20/99

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