Not even a fully committed performance by Anne Heche as socially repellant boozer Dee Dee buoys “That's What She Said,” a grim and grimy gross-out comedy about three women dealing with romantic disaster on a completely unproductive slog through Manhattan.
The trio is asked to leave almost every place they visit, and most viewers will side with all those frustrated coffee shop managers and police officers.
Heche's Dee Dee is an enthusiastic mess who smokes while she brushes her teeth and washes down prescription pills with scotch. She has her reasons, but Dee Dee is precious little help to her unpleasant best friend BeBe (Marcia DeBonis), who is preparing for a big date and but has zero confidence in its outcome.
When Dee Dee meets BeBe at their favorite coffee shop, she finds BeBe comforting Clementine (Alia Shawkat of “Arrested Development”), a young woman in the midst of a terrible breakup. But while Dee Dee and BeBe's anti-social tendencies usually involve shouting while on a bender, Clementine's bad behavior is a different and decidedly sexual lack of restraint.
Together, the trio engages in a full day of chaotic drunkenness and run-ins with authority, which can be appealing in the right hands, but these three characters can barely muster a collective three dimensions among them.
“That's What She Said” is a series of shrill, ugly exchanges distinguishable mainly by periodic changes in location.
Director Carrie Preston worked on a modest budget, but given the resources and technology available to independent filmmakers, it appears that the comedy's cheap-looking visuals and unflattering camera work were an aesthetic choice. While the timing for “That's What She Said” could not be better, coming in the wake of fearless female comedies such as “Bridesmaids” and “Bachelorette,” Preston squanders her film's pop-cultural positioning by making a gross-out comedy that inspires few laughs and a great deal of uncomfortable silence.
Heche is a completely game comic actor, and she proved it with her excellent performance in last year's “Cedar Rapids,” but the material never matches her obvious enthusiasm during Dee Dee's daylong descent. When “That's What She Said,” which is currently showing on Video On Demand, ends with an outpouring of emotions from the group, the sudden catharsis feels unearned and contrived, but at least it happens after a mercifully short running time.
— George Lang
‘That's What She Said'
Starring: Anne Heche, Alia Shawkat, Marcia DeBonis.
(Sexual content and language)
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