`Love Stinks' stinks

September 10, 1999|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

"Love Stinks." And how.

Jeff Franklin's dark comedy, about a love affair gone seriously awry, resorts to flatulence, cat torture, Nair in someone's shampoo and some business involving a high colonic before its characters live happily ever after. It even throws in some gratuitous inside jokes involving NBC entertainment president Warren Littlefield.

But inside baseball and warmed-over gross-out humor are the least of the problems with this mean little movie. Worse still is a premise plucked from the Neanderthal era and the serious misuse of its main star. If fans of French Stewart on "3rd Rock From the Sun" are expecting his character's squintily goofy persona, they're in for a disappointment. In "Love Stinks," Stewart looks like just another prime-time comedian desperately searching for a big-screen break.

Stewart plays television sit-com writer Seth Winnick, who meets a gorgeous interior designer named Chelsea (Bridgette Wilson) at his best friend's wedding celebration. At first turned on by Chelsea's tall good looks and statuesque build, Seth soon finds himself a spider in her nuptial web: It turns out that Chelsea is pathologically interested in marriage and will stoop ever lower to get a ring on her finger.

"Love Stinks," which Franklin wrote and directed, follows Seth's hapless journey as Chelsea weasels her way into his life, at first decorating his house, then moving into it, then moving her cat into it. When Seth resists Chelsea's manipulations, she hits him with a palimony suit, which is when the warfare -- in other words, the flatulence, Nair and colonics -- begins.

The only thing more tiresome than rehashing this series of mean-spirited, unfunny set pieces is watching them in the first place. Lowbrow humor is one thing, as the Farrelly brothers have proven, but "Love Stinks" sinks the bar beyond comprehension.

Doubtless there are filmgoers out there who will find its humor funny -- and surely they won't be bothered by a movie that depicts every woman as a man-hungry, money-hungry, manipulative shrew. Let's just hope they go see "Love Stinks" instead of talking their way through "The Sixth Sense." And let's pray that they don't vote.

`Love Stinks'

Starring French Stewart, Bridgette Wilson, Tyra Banks, Jason Bateman

Directed by Jeff Franklin

Released by Independent Artists

Rated R (language and sexual content)

Running time: 93 minutes

Sun score: *

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