Slap Her, She's French (PG-13) ★★

Review Date: September 9th, 2003


A ditzy, overachieving high school cheerleader is faced with an unexpected popularity crisis when a seemingly melancholic French foreign exchange student steals her boyfriend, her family and her place on the cheerleading squad.


Welcome to the fictional town of Splendona, Texas, whose citizens gorge on huge plates of beef, attend beef beauty pageants (in which contestants actually wear sirloin skirts) and watch bone-crushing high-school football games played by beefy, brain-dead high school hunks. Barbie-bimbo Starla Grady (Jane McGregor), the most popular girl in school, has but one ambition in life: to become the most popular talk show host in America. All is coming up ribs and roses for Starla--until her family takes French foreign exchange student, Genevieve LePlouff (Piper Perabo), into their home. At first Starla warms to the wide-eyed, naïve foreign cutie, but when Genevieve flirts with Starla's lunkhead quarterback boyfriend, Starla becomes suspect of LePlouff's true intentions. Of course, this could all be contributed to cultural misunderstanding. But when Starla is kicked off the cheerleading squad for flunking her French class, the more-oo-la-la-by-the-frame hottie is only too willing to help Starla boost her grades--and take Starla's place on the football field. Soon, LePlouff is ruining Starla's life by putting mind-altering substances in her health drink, stealing her loved ones and conniving to teach her humiliating French words. Now it's time for revenge! Texas-style.


Slap Her…She's French (which has almost nothing to do with France) is more about bad accents (read: really bad) than culture clash. If one can get beyond Jane McGregor's (MTV's ''Live Through This,'' making her screen debut here), gooey, gosh-darn-it Texas drawl, they'll find she's pleasant enough to watch; in fact, kind of fun in a goofy Goldie Hawn-meets-Renee Zellweger way. Perabo (Coyote Ugly) isn't bad either, given her froggy American imitation of a French accent (which is the point, mind you). Most of the players seem to be having fun, given the uneven material and considering that filming started way back in November 2000 and the original director walking off the set after the first week. (So, yeah, this is another one of those movies that was shelved for quite some time.) Michael McKean, as Starla's French teacher Monsieur Duke, is sort of funny, too--especially since he takes the exaggerated French-accent jokes to the extreme. At least you know he's doing it for the laugh.


Not only is Slap Her…She's French about bad accents and choice cuts, but there are also some lesbian overtones and a heck of a lot of shots of cows lumbering around munching grass. Veteran actress and director Melanie Mayron has said she had great fun directing the movie--but great fun does not a great movie make. In one barely funny and long-winded scene, Starla is unwittingly tripping on mushrooms, courtesy of LePlouff, and we are offered a twisted, fish-eye lens view of the entire episode. But we get that same fish-eye view when the characters are addressing Starla. Are they tripping, too? Are we tripping? Ultimately, Slap Her… plays more like a made-for-TV movie, replete with sneaky parents, a nerdy younger brother, sappy love theme music and giggling sleepover girlfriends.

Bottom Line

Who knew red meat could be so funny? With butt and fart film comedies threatening to dictate the American way of life, some mindless riffing on the ''What's for Dinner'' theme might scare Coke-swilling, burger-munching youths into rethinking their diets. It's too bad then the funniest part about Slap Her…She's French is, in fact, the undercurrent that Americans spend their lives eating barbecued ribs and potato salad. But the film's premise-the foreign-exchange student from hell--just doesn't amount to much, unless you consider that ''the French kiss everything'' is the very definition of culture shock. Slap Her…She's French isn't a bad movie, but, hey, if you're hankering for BBQ frog legs, take a bottle of KC Masterpiece on your next visit to the Eiffel Tower.