“Commitment” is something you hope to see from actors even in a movie that might not offer the most ambitious roles, cleverest dialogue or most surprising script.
Malin Akerman and Bella Thorne deliver that with every punch, kick, head-butt and one-liner in “Chick Fight,” a movie they co-produced.
It may be a movie that’s literally nothing more than its billing, a “Fight Club” romantic comedy with women, Mean Girls and “mom jean” jokes. It’s sentimental, tries too hard to be coarse and manages no real surprises, start to finish.
But these two, with the help of stunt coordinator Shauna Galligan and her team, flat out bring it. And they make a middling movie pretty damned likable.
I mean, who could hate a picture where the in-the-ring trash talk goes “there?”
“Are you ready to BLEED?”
“Yeah, but not for another MONTH!”
Akerman plays Anne, a lonely, flat-broke cafe owner in that gorgeous, beachfront corner of Puerto Rico that’s way too pretty to pass for Florida. She’s losing her business, her car’s just been repossessed and her Dad (Kevin Nash) just ended his mourning for her late mother (dead nine months) by coming out as gay.
But Anne has that one sassy best friend, Charleen (Dulce’ Sloan, funny), a cop who introduces her to that thing that can change her life, a fight club for women, where Bear (Fortune Feimster) presides.
“OK, let’s get more prepared to RUuuumble!”
It’s a dizzy, if somewhat brutal scene — stunned “first-timers” looking at shirt and wondering “Is that my blood?” “It sure ain’t KETCHUP!,” librarians choking out or knocking out baristas.
Here, you “Fight it out, then hug it out,” even if you get knocked out. At least there’s a cute doctor (Kevin Connolly) on hand if things get out of hand.
“Oh, I’m a TERRIBLE doctor. Ohio State. I was drunk the whole time.”
One word of advice? Avoid “Kung Fu Barbie,” the “ninja cheerleader” Olivia (Thorne). She’s “super baller,” quick to fire off a “mom jeans” put-down lest this fight club become a “support group for basic b-tches.”
If Anna’s going to do this, she needs training. That might come from the guy who trained Sugar Ray, the local tiki bar lush Murphy (Alec Baldwin). He’s so lame he just lip-syncs his karaoke (Make the effort, Baldwin!). He’s so loaded he spends more time falling down than standing up.
“I like you, Heidi!”
“OK. we’ll go with that.”
And yes, everything that happens after that is as predictable as everything that came before it. One novel touch? Teaching somebody to punch and “look for the weak spot” with a watermelon. Old School boxing trick?
“Nah, I saw it on Youtube.”
The script is thin on one-liners, which forces director Paul Leydon (“Come Back to Me”) to lean HEAVILY on training montages and fight montages. The soundtrack, laced with Final Child, Qveen Herby, Menace Beach and Bones UK, atones for that.
Riding that “fight movie” formula this hard, and giving it a lot of sisterhood sentimentality, means “Chick Fight” was never going to be all that. Saying it “works” is a tad generous, considering how utterly predictable it is.
But for a bad movie, it’s a fun.
MPA Rating: R for language and sexual material throughout, some violence and brief drug use
Cast: Marin Akerman, Bella Thorne, Dulce’ Sloan, Fortune Feimster, Kevin Connolly and Alec Baldwin
Credits: Directed by Paul Leydon, script by Joseph Downey. A Quiver release.
Running time: 1:37