”It’s one of the best movies about human nature I’ve ever seen in my life,” exclaims Sherry Argov. “It’s about learning who’s going to propel you forward in life, and who isn’t. I love this movie!”
Argov, a Los Angeles-based writer, relationship expert, and talk show darling, is the author of the best-selling book Why Men Love Bitches (2002, Adams Media) and its forthcoming sequel Why Men Marry Bitches. We have connected, via telephone, to discuss the recently-released romantic comedy Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. Unfortunately, that’s not the film she’s just been talking about. That would be “Seabiscuit,” the Oscar-nominated horse-racing drama for which she has nothing but kind words. As for Tad Hamilton, the words she comes up with are not so kind, words like “Boring,” “Stupid,” “ Ridiculous,” and, ahem, “Bullcrap.”
This is the kind of movie in which the characters constantly stop the action to swap pithy platitudes. Apparently, no one in the little town of Frazier’s Bottom, West Virginia—where the film is set—ever engages in actual conversation; instead, people spout catchy slogans, rattling them off like over-caffeinated booth workers at a bumper sticker convention.
“Any guy who tells a woman he’s not into sports and loves animals is just trying to get her to have sex with him.” “Competition and ambition are just recipes for an unsatisfying life.” “Guard your carnal treasure!”
That last one is good, but here’s my favorite.
“There are three kinds of love—Love, Big Love, and Great Love. Love lasts two weeks, Big Love lasts two years, but Great Love changes your life forever.”
“What total bullcrap,” Argov remarks. “Either you love someone or you don’t. There are no degrees and levels to love, no ‘I love you’ but I’m not ‘in’ love with you. When you’re in love you don’t waffle. Period. End of story. If someone is separating love into different little categories, making distinctions between, you know, love with a cherry on top and love with, I don’t know, a cherry and whip cream, then that’s not love.
‘And if you think it is, you’re being duped.”
In the movie, that “Three Kinds of Love” speech is delivered by Angelica the tattooed bartender (Kathryn Hahn), who openly lusts after brainy grocery store manager Pete (Topher Grace), who secretly longs for pretty check-out girl Rosie (Kate Bosworth), who’s a big fan of fatuous Hollywood hunk Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel), who offers himself up as a fundraising prize, and is promptly won by none other than Rosie. Complications ensue as Pete and Tad compete for Rosie’s affections, with Angelica appearing every now and then to flex her tattoos and recite more platitudes:
“If you feel something and you don’t do everything in your power to make it happen,” she says, “it’s slapping life in the face.” “Your odds go up when you file an application.” “Once a man closes the door on you, it’s shut, nailed, cemented, boarded up forever.”
“More bullcrap!” laughs Argov. “Spoken just like a woman who doesn’t have a man. The moral of the story here, is don’t follow the advice of a woman who works in a bar and can’t keep a man past five minutes. Whatever she tells you, believe the opposite.”
Hmmmm. At this point, one might have to say Argov was behaving somewhat . . . um, bitchy. She’d be the last to deny it.
“To me, the word bitch is a positive thing,” she explains. “I never mean it in a pejorative way, because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a woman sticking up for herself. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a voice or being a confident person. In my view, a bitch isn’t a woman who steps on other people, she’s a woman who won’t allow herself to be stepped on by others.”
By that measure, it’s good-natured Rosie‚ though scripted as a nice, sweet girl next door—who turns out to be the best example, in “Tad Hamilton,” of the classic Argovian bitch.
“She isn’t easily manipulated,” Argov allows, “she’s an independent thinker, she looks at a person’s soul and intentions, not just at their promo package—and though she thinks about giving the movie star some booty, she’s too smart for that. She knows that to him, she’s just another toy, and a bitch isn’t willing to just be anyone’s property—even if it’s the property of a king.”
So then, could a bitch, as Argov defines her, find true love with a guy like Pete? It’s got to be a plus that they’ve been friends for years, right?
“Oh, they weren’t friends,” Argov replies. “He wanted in her pants from day one. That’s not friendship! It’s not friendship if you want to shack up with that person. I don’t care what people want to think, you cannot be friends with someone whose bones you want to jump. You can be friendly, at dinner while your plotting how to get in their pants, and you might even be friendly the next morning after you’ve gotten in her pants, but if an erection is involved in any way—take that as a sign, boys—this is not a friendship.”
Finally, asked whether she approves of the movie’s ending, in which (yes, it’s true) either Tad and/or Pete do end up gaining access to Rosie’s booty, Argov stands her ground.
“Neither of them deserved her,” she says.
Writer David Templeton takes interesting people to the movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate post-film conversation. This is not a review; rather, it’s a freewheeling, tangential discussion of art, alternative ideas, and popular culture.
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