Out of the Celluloid Closet

This forgotten romcom gave us one of the messiest, gayest movie moments in film history

Thanks to big-budget offerings like Anyone But You and The Idea of You, we’re experiencing something of a romcom renaissance at the moment. But let’s not forget some of the buried goodness that came before. In the early oughts, Hollywood might have had a little too much fun leaning into chauvinistic stereotypes about men, women, and the perils of trying to find true love. But there was also a fair amount of subversion of the romcom formula, from the offbeat Pillow Talk pastiche Down With Love to the charmingly bizarre How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Among this cohort was a little-seen gem that played up the absurdity of heterosexuality for grim, gross laughs. That’s right: I’m talking about the Selma Blair-Christina Applegate-Cameron Diaz flick The Sweetest Thing, which, despite ostensibly being about straight women, today reads as queerer than a three dollar bill, in the best way possible.

The plot? Thin as hell. The acting? Wonderfully over the top. The gist? Christina Walters is a San Francisco-based player who—as Carrie Bradshaw attempted to do in the pilot of Sex and the City—tries to date “like a man,” meaning she pumps them and dumps them. It’s awesome! She doesn’t prioritize guys over her two besties, divorce lawyer Courtney (Applegate, in a hilarious turn) and Jane (Blair) and together, the three have raucous adventures in the SF dating scene. That is, until a guy calls Christina on her bs. This guy happens to be played by mega-hunk and Hung star Thomas Jane, he of the stunning dimples and sunkissed floppy hair. When he and Christina have their contretemps, Christina can’t stop thinking about it, and it leads her down some wild and winding roads in pursuit of romance.

But none of that is as important as one crucial moment when the girls find themselves all single at the same time. As single ladies who are not shy about enjoying casual sex, the three start chatting about the fragility of the male ego. This leads into one of the all-time great non-musical musical movie moments of all time. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am of course referring to the P*nis song.

In three separate star turns that put Samantha Jones and Meg Ryan’s infamous When Harry Met Sally scene to shame, the gals wax lyrical about the lies they tell men about their d*cks. And then something magical happens: it becomes a song.

Now granted, these are three cis women talking about sex. In 2003, it didn’t exactly scream gay. But in hindsight, a movie that features glory holes, cunnilingus jokes, and a song like this can’t help but be gay culture. I don’t make the rules!

The Sweetest Thing was only one in a series of dirty, sex-forward romcoms like There’s Something About Mary and American Pie that scratched a specific cultural itch. It was an itch to see empowered, sex-positive women talking about and having sex with absolutely no shame or stigma attached. And quite frankly, we could use more romcoms with that energy right about now.

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Tags: romcom
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