Simply Irresistible

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Mark Tarlov had been a successful producer since the early eighties, long before he turned to directing features. As a producer Tarlov brought to the screen such diverse films as Sidney Lumet’s Power (1986) and the John Waters’ flicks Serial Mom (1994), Pecker (1998) and Cecil B. Demented (2000). Tarlov’s directorial debut, Simply Irresistible (1999), fails to inhabit any of the aesthetic spaces of the auteurs whom Tarlov had worked with in the past. Instead Simply Irresistible feels like an overly long television pilot from the early nineties, something like Running Delilah (1993) that wasn’t picked up but aired as a TV movie of the week.

With a mirco-budget and a plot revolving around a magical and sexy vanilla scented fog that is emitted by a friendly crab Tarlov could have benefited from John Waters’ self-deprecating and reflexive sense of humor. Tarlov insists that everything be played straight. So when the film erupts from a cheap Nora Ephron knock off into a Tashlinesque fantasia the audience is left unsure how to perceive the events unfolding before their eyes.

Things are hardly helped by Sean Patrick Flanery’s performance as the executive love interest Tom Bartlett. At every turn the Bartlett character behaves like a scumbag. In that role Flanery chooses to amplify Bartlett’s snarky, misogynistic behavior. Not for one second is anyone rooting for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Amanda Shelton to get with this little creep. It’s Gellar’s performance, which is at times quite wooden, that gives Simply Irresistible any of its charms.

There is nothing to Simply Irresistible. Despite the best efforts of Sarah Michelle Gellar, an inspired minor turn by Patricia Clarkson, and a few inspired set pieces the film just doesn’t work. It fits nicely into the “so bad it’s good” category of movies. There’s some really wild weirdness in Simply Irresistible that’s a lot of fun it’s just such a slog to get to those moments.