Girl Fever (2002)
“If at first you don’t succeed”
Director: Michael Davis
Cast: Chad Donella, Jennifer Morrison, Erinn Bartlett
Synopsis: Sam is having the worst day of his life when he gets thrown off his art course and dumped by his girlfriend in the same day, he then meets a girl called Hope who gives him back his smile …
Any theory that the law of diminishing returns refers as much to the creative as the fiscal rewards offered by sequels/follow-ups is amply supported by back-to-back viewings of Girl Fever, and its predecessor, 100 Girls (2000) — which was itself no better than average. While the effort put into the script of the earlier movie by writer/director Michael Davis was evident, this effort — which is little more than a remake — appears to have been the lazy compromise of a man reheating an overcooked feast.
Take one likable, if slightly dorkish ‘hero’ (Final Destination’s anagrammatically-named Chad E. Donella, who actually makes quite an engaging lead), saddle him with a major case of the hots for a woman he can’t have and a gross friend with worryingly anti-social habits, add a little so-called mystery, a screen full of gorgeous women in various states of undress, and a cartoon-like bad guy. Then stir and stir and stir until congealed and voila! you have the Michael Davis formula.
The story revolves around Sam (Donella), an unappreciated artist who loses the phone number of Hope (Erinn Bartlett), the girl he has just met, and gets a job as a delivery boy in the hope that he might just end up delivering to her address (as you do). And guess what? Only now, Sam’s inamorata has been transformed from a zany free-spirit into a miserable recluse. Sam determines to discover the reason for this about face, eventually enlisting the help of the 99 other women who share Hope’s women-only apartment house.
100 Girls was packed with wry observations on the differences between men and women, but Davis had obviously drained the well for that movie, because all he can provide in this one are a couple of half-hearted verbal duels between Sam and Tanya (Chene Lawson), an Amazonian business woman/neighbour of Hope. Davis contrives to fill this obvious gap by substituting philosophical badinage with juvenile gross out gags that sit uncomfortably with the subject matter. So instead of verbal ping-pong, we’re treated to a snot-snorting shootout between Sam and the sleazy caretaker (Clint Howard) of the girls’ apartment building. Or a game of ‘burp tennis’ between the caretaker and Sam’s best friend, Holden (Steve Monroe — Miss Congeniality, J. Edgar) another of the movie’s few pluses). Davis has toned down — but not completely dispensed with — the annoying voice-over from 100 Girls but, as in the earlier movie, all the men in Girl Fever (apart from Sam) are gross and hopeless, and all the women are shining beacons of lovable womanhood.
The girls are indeed all beautiful (Davis must have a whale of a time filming them — maybe that’s why the old dog sticks to the same story), and Erinn Bartlett and Jennifer Morrison (Warrior) as the two female leads both give decent performances and deserve to go on to bigger and (much) better things but, all-in-all, this is a major step backwards for Michael Davis.