Dir: Wally Wolodarsky. US. 2002. 93 mins.
Combining elements of Animal House and Tootsie - considerably more of the former than the latter - Sorority Boys is a college comedy that optimistically attempts to blend social commentary with bawdy campus humour. Predictably enough, it fails to fully deliver in either department. Surprisingly though, the result is still fairly watchable and occasionally quite funny. With two teen TV stars heading its cast, the film should be capable of a brief US theatrical run - it opened to $4.13m from 1,801 sites in its opening weekend - followed by a stronger performance on video. Its international prospects are likely to be more limited, making use as it does on the American college system of fraternity houses.
The title characters are Dave (Watson), Adam (Rosenbaum) and Doofer (stand-up Williams), three hard-partying and resolutely un-PC student pals who are unexpectedly ejected from the aptly-named K.O.K. fraternity house. To get back in, and uncover the plot against them, the boys dress up as girls. In the guises of Daisy, Adina and Roberta, they then accept temporary shelter at the ultra-PC D.O.G. sorority house, led by the pretty but defensive Leah (Sagemiller, from Get Over It). In high heels and make-up, the boys begin to realise the error of their K.O.K. ways and even to bond with their D.O.G. house sisters.
Under the direction of Wally Wolodarsky - one of the original writers of The Simpsons and more recently the writer-director of Sundance Festival comedy Coldblooded - Sorority Boys bounces along at an energetic clip, punctuating the story with both frat-boy humour and effective re-enactments of familiar drag comedy gags. But the script - by first-time feature writers Joe Jarvis and Greg Coolidge - gives most of its plot points away too early on. Within 15 minutes the boys are already in drag and within 30 Leah and Dave/Daisy have already begun their awkward romance. Thereafter, the film relies heavily on stock characters and situations like the chain-smoking hairy French girl, the misbehaving fake boobs and the boys' growing interest in their new-found wardrobes.
The three lead performances cover the spectrum of cross-dressing comedy. Watson, the pretty one, gets little to do in drag and doesn't bring much to the story's romantic thread either. The rubber-faced Williams is assigned most of the broad gags and comes across, with his bright red wig and gaudy costumes as an apprentice pantomime dame. Rosenbaum does the only half-believable - and easily the most enjoyable - turn, playing Adam/Adina as a feisty proto-feminist with a big-bum complex and a mean pitching arm.
Prod cos: MBST Entertainment, Touchstone Pictures
US dist: Touchstone Pictures
Int'l dist: Buena Vista Int'l
Prods: Larry Brezner, Walter Hamada
Exec prod: Michael Fottrell
Scr: Joe Jarvis, Greg Coolidge
Cinematography: Michael D O'Shea
Prod des: Edward T McAvoy
Ed: Richard Halsey
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Main cast: Barry Watson, Michael Rosenbaum, Harland Williams, Melissa Sagemiller, Tony Denman