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'Sorority Boys'

'Sorority Boys' is the Hollywood equivalent of a wet T-shirt night

Friday, March 22, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Ever see "Some Like it Hot," with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis masquerading as girl musicians?

 
 
'Sorority Boys'

RATING: R for crude sexual content, nudity, strong language, and some drug use.

STARRING: Barry Watson, Michael Rosenbaum, Harland Williams

DIRECTOR: Wally Wolodarsky

WEB SITE: bventertainment.go.com/
sororityboys

CRITIC'S CALL:

   
 

What about "Bosom Buddies," an '80s TV series with Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari as desperate New Yorkers who pretend to be dames and move into the Susan B. Anthony hotel? Or the brilliant "Tootsie," starring Dustin Hoffman as an out-of-work actor who becomes the diva of daytime TV?

If you answered no to each of the above and you are a 19-year-old man (give or take a few years), you might be the intended audience for "Sorority Boys." It's yet another men-in-drag comedy in which they learn how hard it is to be a woman and, in the process, become better men. That would be fine, if they could do it without the nudity, crude jokes and sex toys.

Barry Watson, Michael Rosenbaum and Harland Williams play frat brothers named Dave, Adam and Doofer. They live at the KOK house, where a favorite party game is to shout, "Dog catcher" and throw a net over a member of the Delta Omicron Gamma or DOG sorority and toss her outside.

After being unfairly accused of embezzling money, the three men are evicted. They think a tape exonerating them is still in the house, so they dress as women to gain access to a KOK party. They're bounced but end up at the DOG house, where they pledge (as Daisy, Adina and Roberta) to get free room and board while plotting their exoneration.

The house is run by a feminist named Leah (Melissa Sagemiller), who has embraced a rather oddball bunch of women, including one (Heather Matarrazo) with a braying voice, another who is unusually tall and a third who could use an introduction to a razor or depilatory.

In the inevitable complications, Dave falls for Leah, Adam is regularly insulted while dressed as a woman and Doofer discovers the disgust of having to clean the sink drain in a house of women. In ways small and large, they change the DOGs, just as they themselves are changed.

I don't want this to sound noble or "Tootsie"-like, because these dragsters (or their director and writers) don't deserve to touch the hem of Hoffman's dress. "Sorority Boys" borrows, liberally, from its I-feel-pretty predecessors and gives everything a shellacking of frat-boy, sophomoric humor.

"Sorority Boys" convincingly transforms the men into women, although Doofer looks like the "before" candidate for a makeover. Watson, who plays the eldest son on "7th Heaven," is a handsome man who becomes a sweet, pretty woman. Rosenbaum steals the picture as a stud who gets his comeuppance but also inspires the DOGs during a football game.

But since this is "Sorority Boys," their opponents are snooty sorority chicks who get sprayed with water, turning their T-shirts translucent. And wouldn't you know it? They're not wearing bras. What a surprise.

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