Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boobs: An American Obsession (2010)

Directed by Nina Brownfield-Berry
Starring Julie Strain, Mamie Van Doren, Tom Arnold, Melonie Charm
Unrated 
USA

"I'm a sideshow freak. I'm not normal."

Given the cleavage-filled cover, and the exuberant title, I naturally assumed this was a celebration of boobs, especially since it features top-heavy good-time gals like Julie Strain and Mamie Van Doren. Sadly, this is not the case. Boobs is actually a fairly sober documentary on the various realities of owning a pair of breasts. One shallow bubble-head gets a tit-job because she thinks it'll help her snag some movie roles, an aging big-breast internet model smokes cigarettes with her lesbian neighbor and laments the fact that she can't really go outside, a very adorable older couple talk about life after a double-masectomy (!), etc.


Most of the subjects make you feel sorta judge-y; one nerdy creep with a frumpy wife cajoles her into a needless breast job and then parades her around in lingerie he proudly bought off the clearance rack, a 50 year old mom gets a breast job and starts stripping at the same club as her daughter to pay off her escalating debt, some ancient bearded lunatic in Rochester, New York, coerces his dim-witted child bride to walk around town topless, and all the feminists interviewed are stoic and sexless.

Mamie Van Doren is onscreen for five or so minutes looking insane - if you're wondering what happened to Baby Jane, here she is - and utilizes her time to mention that if it weren't for her boobs, she's probably have to use her brain more often. On a similar note, b-goddess Julie Strain sells herself short by claiming that all her success is based solely on her boob job, and not because she's a 6 foot tall glamazon who looks amazing when she's shooting a machine gun with one arm while steering a speed boat with the other.


 There a few sympathetic characters - a girl with natural breasts so large and heavy they made it impossible for her to walk without pain gets breast reduction surgery and finally gets to live a normal life; a pixie-esque LA stand-up comic recounts about how she realized, in the doctor's office, that she was fine just the way she was, and a pair of regular-folks couples laugh at the folly of America's breast obsession. So that's something, at least.

First-time director Brownfield-Berry clearly attempted to be even-handed, but the with so many creepy doctors, pervy nudists, delusional breast surgery addicts, mean-spirited conservative talk show hosts, opportunistic skin-rag publishers, and potential cult leaders that by the end of it, you're actually sick and tired of boobs. And, quite frankly, I thought that was impossible. In that respect, Brownfield-Berry is like the anti-Russ Meyer, ruining everybody's bountiful good time with her graphic surgery and her long-one losers. Do yourself a favor - skip Boobs and spend some time with some real boobs.


- Ken McIntyre

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