We have a dilemma here with the Dramedy ĎMeet Monica Velourí my friends, in that we have a film I really didnít care for, offset by one of the finest performances by an actress that we have seen in a movie in a very long time. Yes, that means that Kim Cattrall was even better in this movie than she was in ĎBig Trouble in Little Chinaí. I know, right?
Tobe (Dustin Ingram), by almost anybodyís definition of the word, is weirdo. He looks weird, being about 6í2" and weighing around 100 pounds, he sports an unkempt red afro, he listens to music from the thirties, drives his granddadís vehicle with a big hot dog on top and probably most disturbingly is his unhealthy fascination with 70ís / 80ís porn legend Monica Velour.
Now graduating from high school, Granddad (Brian Dennehy) has bequeathed the hot dog mobile to Tobe, but like most young people his age, Tobe isnít nearly as appreciative of this gift as he should be. In fact, he immediately puts the hot dog mobile up for sale on the Internet, and itís not long before he gets a call. Unfortunately that call is in Indiana and Tobe lives in Washington StateÖ and just hearing the deep melodious tones of Claudeís voice over the line, we already know that this cat is being played by Keith David.
As dumb movie luck would have it, Monica Velour will be performing at some strip club in Indiana, not far from Claude who wants to buy the Hot Dog Mobile. Go figure. So Tobe packs up his stuff and heads off to see the object of his desire do her thing. Once he gets there, where others in the audience see a middle aged woman on stage worthy of their acidic derision, Tobe sees the same goddess in the thirty year old videotapes heís watched over and over and over again, and heís none too happy with the disrespect that these people are showing his goddess. Did we mention that Tobe is a little light in the pants? One sound ass kicking later, Tobe wakes up in the mobile home of his goddess and a strange relationship is forged.
Monica Velour, or Linda Romanoli as her parents named her, is an absolute mess. She drinks too much, if you have an illegal drug available she will use it, she mightíve turned a trick or two in her day, she has a jerk of an ex-husband who only exists to verbally abuse her, she canít keep a real jobÖ not that stripping isnít a real job, but she canít keep that eitherÖ and she still holds out hope of gaining custody of her young daughter. Good luck with that Monica. Her life only becomes more complicated by this geeky kid that she simply cannot shake. A kid whose infatuation has become a full blown obsession, and a kid who believes he can save her. Now Iím no psychologist, but Iím thinking the absolute last thing in the world you want to do with someone who is obsessed with youÖ is have sex with them. But then Iím no mental health professional so what do I know? I do know that if you sex up a seventeen year old boy who normally couldnít attract flies if he was a piece of dookey, heís probably going to act just like Tobe is acting right now, and Monica lets him know very rudely that this isnít that kind of party.
Now Tobe is sad. You know what Tobe needs? He needs what all confused white people in movies need, and that is an older, very wise, all knowing Black Dude to guide him. One day I hope to be that guy. Now armed with the Word of Claude, Tobe knows what he must do. I donít know if thatís what Claude meant, but thatís what Tobe heard. Regardless, whatever happens, especially with the wisdom of the broken down whore and the wise Black Dude supporting him, Iím confident that Tobe will be a better man when itís all said and done.
So Kim Cattrall was just phenomenal in this movie. Not that the woman is a bad actress or anything, hardly, but I didnít know she had this kind of performance locked away in her pretty frame. Iím guessing she pulled Monica Velourís backstory from her work on ĎMannequiníÖ yes, Iíve seen a lot of Kim Cattrall movies, just like you haveÖ but I donít know where she pulled the inspiration for the borderline tragic character of Linda Romanoli from. Maybe itís a downward extension of that ĎSex in the Cityí character she plays, but since Iíve never seen a single episode of that show or any of the movies, I can neither confirm nor deny this. Without a doubt, watching this artist work makes this a film worth seeing.
But the rest of the movieÖ because this is young Dustin Ingramís movie and not Kim Cattrallís movieÖ is grating. His character of Tobe is absolutely no fun to hang out with. Some people may get the urge to give Tobe a comforting hug, but I imagine most people will just want to punch him in the face, just like those obnoxious college kids did. Since the filmmakers made Tobe look a lot like Napoleon Dynamite, only with a little less personality and three times more irritating, weíre kind of stuck comparing him to Napoleon Dynamite. Note that I wanted to punch Napoleon in the face too, but he made me laugh in between wanting to punch him in the face. Seriously though, there was nothing cute or funny about Tobe because, the way he was presented to us, he was mentally ill and needed help. He didnít need to go on an unsupervised road trip. We could say this was all in fun, Tobeís mental illness, but nobody told Kim Cattrall this was all in good fun because Linda Romanali and what she was dealing with in her life was deadly serious. Kind of an inconsistent disconnect there.
Itís too bad that the rest of the movie and the predictable script elements could not rise up to the high level that Ms. Cattrall set in this movie, or even the fine work put in by Keith David and Brian Dennehy who were both very good in limited support. Thus the dilemma. Probably still worth seeing should the opportunity arise.