Parents' Guide to

Phat Girlz

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Uneven Mo'Nique vehicle; not for kids.

Movie PG-13 2006 99 minutes
Phat Girlz Poster Image

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Mo'Nique stands up for plus-size women's rights to happiness and decent wardrobes, but Nnegest Likké's movie frames her with a set of broadly comic stereotypes that are less than empowering. The film's logic -- that inverting the hierarchy of beauty, from thin to large, amounts to retribution and redemption -- is troubling. Though Jazmin eventually makes up with Mia, the film never lets her off the hook, making her incessantly silly and vain. The other part of this logic, that men's desire determines women's worthiness, is certainly not unique to Phat Girlz.

To be fair, the movie does allow Jazmin another measure, when her designs do become successful, but the man-thing remains crucial for her self-worth. The film goes on too long, with too many possible endings (the first would be best). While it does make admirable claims for women resisting the judgments of others, it also makes fun of women. As much as it might have offered alternative imagery, the movie falls back on very familiar imagery. Mo'Nique can be unfamiliar, unsettling, and provocative, but she can also be exactly what you expect. Let's hope she finds a vehicle that allows more surprises.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: April 7, 2006
  • On DVD or streaming: August 22, 2006
  • Cast: Eric Roberts , Kendra C. Johnson , Mo'Nique
  • Director: Nnegest Likke
  • Inclusion Information: Black directors, Female actors, Bisexual actors, Black actors
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Run time: 99 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: sexual content and language, including some crude sexual references.
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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