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Better Than Chocolate

Hey, that's two women in the poster!! Yep, Better Than Chocolate is no ordinary romantic comedy. Maggie has just dropped out of college and is working at a gay and lesbian bookstore by day, and dancing at the "Cat's Ass" club by night. She has no home, so the bookstore owner lets her sleep on the sofa in the store. Wendy has just met Kim, and they hit it off real well. However, Wendy's mom Lila has just gotten a divorce, and she and Wendy's brother Paul are moving out to live with Wendy. The real kicker is that Lila has no idea that Wendy is a lesbian. She was shocked just to discover that Wendy was no longer in college.

Wendy (Karyn Dwyer) manages to find an apartment from a lady who teaches sex seminars. She is going on a trip for four weeks, and Wendy agrees to sublet the apartment. She figures that in that amount of time, she can get rid of her mom (Lesly Ann Warren) and her brother. Of course, the apartment is full of dildos and other implements of pleasure. Kim (Christina Cox) is an artist who does portraits and enjoys putting paint on bodies and then rolling around a canvas. Better Than Chocolate is mainly about Wendy and Kim and Lili. Wendy and Kim are just in the beginning stages of their relationship, which they have to hide from Lili. At the same time, Lili is reeling from her divorce. She is extremely old fashioned, so Wendy has trouble trying to decide whether or not to tell her mom about her sexuality. Writer and director Anne Wheeler's script manages to infuse lots of humor in tackling many of the stereotypes against gays and lesbians. The funniest scenes in the movie deal with Lili and her ignorance at everything that is going on around her. Lili embodies the Judeo-Christian ethic that Wendy and many of her friends believe is extremely out dated. She gave up her career for her marriage. She made sacrifices for her family. While her husband worked, she stayed home to raise the children.

Better Than Chocolate fails when it tries to infuse some social commentary into the film. The slowest scenes are the ones dealing with US Customs holding up a shipment of books because they deemed obscene. Just as many of the lesbians in the films stereotypical portrayals, the anti-gay forces are even worse. They are all caricatures of the worst people that we see in the news. The only non-stereotypical character was Tony (Tony Nappo) the Italian neighbor, who surprisingly wasn't played off as the typical 'movie' Italian. The ending sequences were especially unbelievable. While Wheeler was probably trying to make a comment on prejudices against homosexuals, the whole thing came off as campy and contrived, thus causing the movie as a whole to end up worse than it otherwise would have.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for nudity, sex, and language.

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