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Review: Garmento

This shrill fashion industry satire by first-time director Michele Maher is as toothless as they come.

Photo: Spanish Moss

Grindy Malone (Katie McNichol) is a fashion industry newbie who lands an assistant job at a has-been designer’s garment house. When the company’s new product (padded-crotch underwear for men with the clever ad campaign “Criminally Large”) goes bust, Grindy gets the kind of career-making opportunity assistant-level pond scum only gets in the movies. Grindy suggests they bring back a ‘70s jeans line and soon PR Jeans (a conglomerate of Poncho Ramirez and rival company Romeo Jeans) is doing so good that everyone is screaming IPO. This shrill fashion industry satire by first-time director Michele Maher is as toothless as they come. Though Maher supposedly spent three years in fashion, Garmento could just as easily have been written by anyone with a passing understanding of the industry or, more accurately, a student of Calvin Klein’s controversial kiddie porn advertisements from a few years back. If Barry Levinson’s very broad Wag the Dog was self-devouring, Garmento is so narrow-minded that it seems to exist inside a vacuum. The performances are catatonic though Juan Carlos Hernandez (“Oz” fans will remember him as mama’s boy Carlo Ricardo) repeatedly and humorously invents new ways of breaking his sleep deprivation. Jasper finds himself a fag hag in Grindy and though they’ve known each other for mere seconds, he declares that “faggots” are the only ones buying Poncho’s padded cups. This scene, more like an uncomfortable bump in a very long 90-minute road, is indicative of everything that’s wrong with Garmento. Since Jasper isn’t self-hating, it seems odd that he’d use the word “faggot” so comfortably with someone he’s just met. But, then again, his faux pas is just one of many shocks-to-the-system that Grindy is subjected to on her way to her unceremonious, last-act dismissal. What is Garmento but a lame approximation of sexier and deadlier works like Altman’s The Player? Forget the preposterous, unnatural character trajectory Grindy makes from timid administrative assistant to cold-hearted career woman, much more painful are Maher’s jabs at the industry. Much like the slap Grindy gives her boss Ronnie (David Thornton), most fail to resonate.

Cast: David Thornton, Katie MacNichol, Saundra Santiago, Jerry Grayson, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Matt Servitto, Jason Butler Harner Director: Michele Maher Screenwriter: Michele Maher Distributor: Spanish Moss Running Time: 90 min Rating: NR Year: 2002 Buy: Video

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