When this movie showed up in this week's rentals I could not remember why it was on my list, and that was the case until Katharine Heigl showed up as one of the "100 Girls" promised by the title. With Heigl positioned as the current queen of romantic comedy for recent hits such as "Knocked Up" and "27 Dresses," I had added this 2000 film to connect some more of the dots in her film career. My Introduction to Popular Culture class this semester got to choose between "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," so I had just watched those movies again this last week to write up the quiz for the movie unit. "100 Girls" is certainly in the tradition of such raunchy romantic comedies, a genre that I suppose has been around forever, but to my mind was given a cinematic rebirth that has been growing every since the release of "Porky's." That being said, what we have here is one of the more charming examples of the form.
The set up for the film from writer-director Michael Davis ("Eight Days a Week") is that our boy Matthew (Jonathan Tucker) is in the elevator at a girls dorm with a coed who is hidden behind a overflowing laundry basket when the power goes out. The two of them connect interpersonally and then physically, but when he wakes up the next morning he is alone in the elevator. So, Matthew has met his kismetic destiny but does not know her name. However, he does know that she lives in that dorm and he is in possession of her panties. Now all he needs to do is check out the panty drawers of all of the women in the dorm and he will find the woman he loves.
Matthew is the sort of guy who has never gotten the girl, but is clearly going to finish ahead of Rod (James DeBello), his roommate who has has a one track mind on what he needs to do to impress the ladies. Our hero looks way better when stacked up against the nicotine gum chomping Crick (Johnny Green), who represents everything Matthew is not. At least Matthew can articulate Crick's shortcomings, albeit in a grandiose manner that you may or may not deem to be excessive (but which at the very least will taunt all those of us who were bullied once upon a time with the thought of what might have been if we ever had the nerve to say such things to our tormentors). Fortunately, in addition to finishing ahead of this particular competition by default, Matthew has a romantic soul and cerebral thesaurus that allows him to wax even more eloquently as part of the requisite grand gesture I insist guys have to justifying getting the girl before the end credits.
The film makes a point of announcing the rest of the main cast members alphabetically so that you cannot automatically assume that the first female name on the list is she who is being sought. The prime suspects are Patty (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Arlene (Heigl), Wendy (Larisa Oleynik), Cynthia (Jaime Pressly), and Dora (Marissa Ribisi), and the chief charm of this film is that you can see how all of them could be the girl for Matthew and that he connects with all of them in significant ways. This could have been one of those love 'em and leave 'em type films, but I really appreciated that Matthew did not do the wrong thing in trying to find the right girl. I was right in figuring out which girl it was going to be, but that was not so much because of dazzling deductive reasoning working out the clues (e.g., Heigl's character is going to flunk the champagne class test), as it was wishful thinking because I knew who I thought it should be.
Yes, there are some crude and totally gross parts in this movie and for a fair share of viewers I would not be surprised if those moments constitute two steps backwards that are not balanced off by an equal number of steps in a forward direction. I had to shake my head over the gag with the ben-wa balls, but it was the bit with what was in the baggie that made me want to gag. I am able to overlook such things in the end, but not everybody is going be that open minded, so watch "100 Girls" at your own risk. Fortunately such humor is not the main thrust of this particular romantic comedy, and while it is most decidedly a relative proposition in this sub-genre, I found "100 Girls" to be rather charming and a pleasant surprise.