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2002, dir. David Anspaugh
96 min. Rated R.
Starring: Mira Sorvino, Mariah Carey, Melora Walters.

Review by Brodie James

Everybody deserves a second chance; unless you're a woman, in which case you really deserve like three or four.or something.

WISEGIRLS picks up where Meg Kennedy's (Mira Sorvino) medical studies drop off. Falling on hard times, Meg (out of money, and saddled with a somewhat worthless, and for this film, relatively nonexistent, grandmother) is forced to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor, and instead look for a job a woman in her position (see: young, smart, pretty, and desperate) is best suited for.waitressing.

Applying for, and ultimately earning a job as a food server in a ritzy New York City restaurant that is actually a front for some no good Mafia types, Meg learns what it means to work fast in high heels and tight fitting black one-piece dresses. Initially overwhelmed by the constant pressure placed on her shoulders by her overbearing scumbag of a manager, Gio Esposito (Joseph Siravo), and the fast paced world of the waitress, Meg ultimately finds solace in two new relationships formed between herself, and her fellow waitresses, Raychel (Mariah Carey), the feisty female with a South Bronx, girl power attitude; it is her inner strength that inspires Meg to be stronger than she otherwise would be; and, Kate (Melora Walters) the innocent wannabe actress who, to everyone's astonishment, somehow manages to keep a clear head amidst all of the dirty dealings, drugs, and general chaos.

Overtime, Meg earns the favor of the Santalino family (the Mafia family that owns the place) while descending into depression which she decides to compound with casual drug use, all supplied by the well meaning, Raychel. Not to mention the ever growing hatred and disdain her boss, Gio, is continually giving her.

WISEGIRLS is a confusing film. It starts off as a hard luck tale about a young woman who just wants to live her life on her terms, but is too passive to make it happen, and turns into one mother of a cluster.well, you know.

Once Hollywood's reigning "It" girl, ever since Mira Sorvino won the best supporting Oscar for her role as a hooker in Woody Allen's MIGHTY APHRODITE, her career has not only hit the skids - it's taken a fifty foot swan dive into the crapper! Of course, choosing to star in such clunkers as MIMIC and AT FIRST SIGHT, will do that, but I digress.

Aside from Mira's continued success at choosing superficial roles featuring characters with about as much depth as a bird bath, there are several other reasons to dislike this movie. The most of which I think is pretty obvious.Mariah Carey is in it!

Now, while I understand that Mariah lovers everywhere will proclaim that unlike her turn in GLITTER, the pop diva actually manages to do a somewhat decent job here (to which I would agree), let's be brutally honest.just how much talent does it require for one with marginal acting ability to play them self? Mariah is a feisty woman with a penchant for the dramatic, and a purposefully heavy NYC ghetto accent, in real life. Raychel is pretty much the same type, to a T. So, casting Mariah in this dog not only gives her a second chance to prove her chops, but it also allows the filmmakers to conjure up some additional, undeserving, sideshow hoopla in the press. Not that it helped any, since I'd never heard of this film before catching it on a whim just the other day.

Yet, while Mira and Mariah do their best to not suck, Melora Walters (Kate) turns in easily the best performance of the film as Meg's soft spoken voice of reason. Melora--recently appearing in the Ashton Kutcher vehicle THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT--demonstrates that every bad movie has a silver lining. Giving her role more attention than it probably deserved, Walters plows through WISEGIRLS like a pro, never allowing the film's B-movie stigma to faze her. Kate is believable as the nave waitress, and she is believable at the end of the film when everything turns to poo. Keep an eye on her, this is a woman whose career is definitely on an upswing.

All and all, I cannot fully recommend WISEGIRLS to anyone with a set of male genitalia. More suitable for the bored housewife looking to burn a couple of hours, this film is neither gripping enough nor intelligent enough to keep the average viewer watching.

If you're interested in watching a film about women and the Mafia, just watch safe bets like "The Sopranos" or GOODFELLAS where Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco turn in incredible performances. They're not the center of the subject matter, but at least they do more with less, than any of the "M's" in WISEGIRLS could muster.


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