Phat Girlz

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Phat Girlz Movie Poster Image
Uneven Mo'Nique vehicle; not for kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Good points about plus-size women supporting each and themselves; not so good points about competition between plus-size and thin women; and men still get to chose their partners even as women argue.

Violence

Jazmin punches skinny girl (as a child, in flashback) and a man who calls her a "fat bitch" Jazmin pulls toupee off banker who won't give her a loan (guards drag her out yelling and kicking); Jazmin throws clothes and objects out her bedroom window, hitting Mia on sidewalk below.

Sex

Lots of sexual imagery: Opening dream scene has Jazmin pleasured by male servants; repeated cleavage, thongs, bikinis, underwear or short shorts images; bare-torsoed men ogled by women; Stacey has sex with Akibo against wall, in tub (naked bodies in suds); Mia asks, "What's gotten into Stacey?" Answer: "Dr. Akibo" Jazmin stands naked before her mirror (we see shoulders up and Mia's averted eyes); Jazmin and Tunde kiss passionately; Jazmin and Tunde have sex under covers, then she turns on the light to "see" him. Many sexual language/references.

Language

"Dozens" competition between Jazmin and burger clerk ("You so ugly..." and "You so fat" jokes involving mamas, morning sickness, "giving head," "butt-cracks"); Jazmin's frequent use of "bitch" elicits Tunde's remonstration; s-word, one f-word, one "motherf--er" in subtitle; frequent uses of "ass," "damn," "hell."

Consumerism

Fictional fast-food joint: "Fatasssburger."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking in bars and clubs; Jazmin drinks shots; Mia is visibly drunk as she orders a Cosmopolitan; women celebrate with champagne.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes sexual imagery ("comic" sex scenes, against a wall, passionate-awkward kissing, in a suds-filled tub) and language (slang for genitals and sexual activity). The film also includes language that pushes the PG-13 edge, including one f-word and especially, repetition of the word "bitch" (which Jazmin uses in reference to herself as well as the "skinny bitches" she hates). Some antic violence (as when Jazmin hits a girl and a man who call her "fat," or drops objects from her apartment window and hits her cousin on the sidewalk).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byuniquetress April 9, 2008

i adored it!!

i was enthralled throughout the whole movie, having lived for years being a thick madame, and being put down made to feel less than nothing, low self esteem, lo... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMRS.MEDINA April 9, 2008
YA IT WAS A REALY GOOD MOVIE AND I WISH THAT I COULS SEE IT ON THE COMPUTER!

What's the story?

In PHAT GIRLZ, Jazmin (Mo'Nique) is brassy, angry, and smarter than everyone else. She works at a department store where she daily sees women she calls "skinny bitches," privileged and arrogant, with rich and/or good-looking male partners who tell them they're "beautiful." Aside from work, where she commiserates with plus-size best friend Stacey (Kendra C. Johnson), Jazmin is also reminded of her lack of options by her roommate/cousin Mia (Joyful Drake), an aerobics instructor. Jazmin gets what pleasure she can by calling her obnoxious boss (Jack Noseworthy) "D--kface," a joke that wears out in one telling, but really, she wants to show her own design sketches to the stores' women's line buyer, Robert (Eric Roberts). Jazmin wins a contest and the girls head to a Palm Springs spa, where they meet doctors from Nigeria who prefer women of Jazmin and Stacey's mode, and disdain the preening Mia, who goes on to endure all manner of insult for the rest of the film.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the film argues for plus-size women's self-esteem, usually at the (comic) expense of thin women. How do men's judgments shape women's self-images? How does Jazmin find a new sense of self-worth by helping plus-size women?

Movie details

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