You know you’re living in desperate times when a Judd Apatow-produced film is heralded as some kind of feminist breakthrough, but such is the state of female comedy in 2011, so much so that Roseanne Barr felt compelled to call everyone out on it: “I created, wrote, and starred in television’s first feminist and working-class-family sitcom (also its last),” she recently wrote in New York magazine. But Hard Breakers is one of several recent films that try to turn the tide, albeit on the outskirts of pop culture. The movie is only being released in Miami and San Diego, and its out-there beach-bum sex grooves suggest Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion as directed by Gregg Araki.
Two twentysomething female layabouts, Alexis (Cameron Richardson) and Lindsay (Sophie Monk), living near the beach in L.A., are hard up for a good screw. They decide to solve their problems by knocking perfect men unconscious and sleeping with them once they’ve been nursed back to health, which makes for some entertaining sexist role reversal (men are referred to as “targets” and loaded onto back car seats like cargo), but fuzzy feminist theory. It’s hard to know if the girls are referencing Erica Jong’s “zipless fuck” consciously when they describe their perfect man as someone who “knocks on your door, gives you the best shag of your life, and then leaves,” but given the casually stereotypical roles given to the major male Asian and black characters as effete and dominant, respectively, it’s safe to say this is not gender studies-approved.
It may seem weird to recommend a movie with as many bad ideas as Hard Breakers, among them letting Chris Kattan relive his Mango shtick once again, but there’s a genuine sense that someone’s having fun here. The film might even be the closest approximation to the gender inverse of an Apatow flick: Two girls with little to no ambition screw around, fail to clean up their act, and basically come out on top anyway. As Romy and Michele proved, a good female-driven comedy need not aspire to more than dancing on a rooftop anyway.