Regular readers of this blog know a lot about us — like how we used to watch Ghost Whisperer and giggle at how every other character would be in sweaters and overcoats, but Jennifer Love Hewitt was in strapless sundresses and eyelashes as long as the hour. And how we sympathized with her when the whole world told her she looked fat in a bikini and she was like, “You all are insane.” And then we thought she went a little nutso trying to make the hips she’d just defended disappear. And then: Jamie Kennedy. WTF. And finally, we found out she was executive-producing for herself a movie about a woman whom the recession drives to prostitution, via a job in a massage parlor that turns out to have Unexpected Kinky Results.
So of COURSE I was going to watch that. I mean, I am human. And I can’t NOT share the outcome with you, because we’ve walked much of this path together, and I feel that I need to lead you by the hand down this one so that we can recover from it together. I mean:
1) She actually says the phrase, “Hell’s bells,” and MEANS IT;
2) There is a Dashboard Angel of Judgment;
3) The last hour of the film features twelve scenes in which she is crying, many of which are back-to-back; and
4) The name of the spa that SHOCKINGLY turns out to be a den of ill-repute is:
By the way, see all those little notches on my orange DirecTV progress bar? Those are the bookmarks I made every time something happened that made me cringe. I gave up at the hour-and-a-half mark, as you can see, because I was too emotionally exhausted from all the button-pushing.
So, want to hear all about it? Join me after the jump, where the cheese is even more heinous than this one thing she wears in it once.
The first thing you need to know about this movie is that Jennifer Love Hewitt has boobs. Lots of them. And it counts as character development to get them out:
Our story begins about two minutes before the above screen shot, in which JLH and Jock Dullard — her ex-football-hero husband, looking wooden enough to recycle — go to see the banker who is foreclosing on their house. See, Jock’s bum knee ended his athletic career, and now he can’t do construction either, because it got bummed out again. So JLH is hoping her looks will save the day.
And by the way, her looks are apparently stellar. They are birthed from the loins of Perfection and Hot Damn, and if you forget that, don’t worry — you will be reminded. Repeatedly.
Anyway, Jock’s first clue that his wife is a lunatic should have been when she announced to her mother — Cybill Shepherd, whom I was trying not to mention, for her sake, but I can’t help it — that she spritzed herself with pumpkin scent. She read in a magazine that the smell of pumpkin apparently… how to put this delicately… an excellent buttress for any lone wood planks. Then JLH toddles into the bank and leans over and waves her frankincense and myrrh into the banker’s face:
And the pumpkin hallows his ween:
This is the first lesson of the movie: Totally Let a Dude Look Down Your Shirt If You Think It Will Help. There’s no touching, and no money exchanged. Just favors. I mean, her husband’s sitting right there! Nobody’s getting hurt. Don’t be such a prude. Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you shove them under somebody’s nose just in case it gives him a Help Erection.
But you guys, sit down because shit is about to get real: JLH’s breasts don’t have the magic she imagines. They are not the Death Stars of cleavage, able to orbit and destroy with one nudge of a button. So JLH decides that End Times are upon her, and after wailing to her friends that life didn’t turn out like she expected it would after marrying a star athlete, she answers an ad in the paper for a massage therapist in a nearby town — as if the only reason to try this is because the Wiggle It And Win strategy failed. The angel statue on her dashboard bobbles its approval of her moxie.
And that’s when we get our first taste of the Kind Touch Health Spa, which hires JLH on the spot because she’s a “pretty little thing,” and asks absolutely nothing else about her. And this is the second lesson of the movie: If You Say You’re Trained In Shiatsu And Your Prospective Massage-Therapist Boss Looks At You Like, “Whoa, She’s Into Dogs? Ooookay,” Do Not Think Anything Of It; She Probably Just Misheard You And Is Totally Not A Secret Prostitute.
JLH takes the job, but doesn’t learn until she shows up for work the next day that, when you work at the Kind Touch Health Spa, you touch people. Kindly. Have you ever wondered what your face would look like when you find out that your job at the Kind Touch Health Spa involves Kind Touching?
This face says, “Holy shiatsu, I do not have a license to Kind Touch.”
So JLH drives home talking to the Dashboard Angel of Judgment, all, “Dag nabbit. There goes my only chance at getting a job.”
And the DAJ is all, “Lady, Jesus was a carpenter, or something. Try harder.”
But then, oh, DOUBLE WOE, Jock Dullard gets really hammered at JLH’s best friend’s bar, and when JLH goes to pick him up, it turns out that her friend believes JLH is the prettiest girl this town has ever — oh, wait, sorry, is that not the actual plot? Oops.
JLH drags her drunk-ass husband out of there, but during a stop at the gas station, he blubbers about how he was waiting with the day laborers for temp work and everybody who passed him was whispering about the fallen sports hero. And because she clearly loves him a whole bunch, JLH pats him on the leg and says, “I had a bad day, too.” But then she realizes he has no cash for gas, at which point JLH sensitively screams almost exactly this: “I did not sign up for this… In America, a girl this pretty ain’t supposed to be this poor.”
And this is where we start to think, “Wow, this girl is a total a-hole, and I hope she kind-touches someone with crabs.” Because yes, you’ve guessed it, now her husband’s bum knee means she has to go Kind Touch their way to salvation.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you decide to Kind Touch your way to salvation?
This is the third lesson of the movie: Kind Touching Is Totally Okay If Your Husband’s Bum Knee Basically Forces You To Do It, Because Really, Then It’s Sort Of His Fault.
So, y’all, JLH summons all her strength — which she has a LOT of, remember, because she all sassified — and goes to the Kind Touch Health Spa. She sensitively spends her first moments in the office looking like she wants to barf, then does a shot of tequila with the evangelical teen runaway who is trying to save up enough cash to audition for American Idol (for real). This helps. Fourth lesson of the movie: Tequila Always Helps. Because a girl’s first Kind Touch is always the hardest, you know?
But JLH can’t quite seal the deal. She tries small talk with her client, suggesting he be nicer to his wife and buy her things, maybe stop NEEDING outside Kind Touching, essentially implying that her paying customer is only there because he has problems, and then sexily takes a call from her kid to talk about the spelling bee. The guy is like, “That’s not what I’m paying for,” because, you know, sometimes when we Kind Touch, the honesty’s too much. So JLH has to resort to desperate measures.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you realize you need to Kind Touch an old guy real fast-like?
The DAJ is all, “Girl, I have never seen TV before, so I am SHOCKED you went back there and did that.”
And JLH is like, “Bitch, please, my husband has a BUM KNEE.”
But this was really tough for JLH, you guys. Because despite the fat pile of cash in her wallet, JLH can’t believe she just Kind Touched a man for money. She pulls over and barfs by the side of the road, as the DAJ is all, “Honey, The Good Book says never to Kind Touch after you’ve eaten Pad Thai.”
Next, JLH confides in her friend. Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you tell your best friend that you’re Kind Touching?
JLH makes her see reason — it’s just a bit of harmless touchery, in a kind way, and it’s paying for the house that Jock’s bum knee can’t afford — and then asks her friend not to tell her own husband. The friend responds, with only slight paraphrasing, “And let him know you’re available? Hell no.” Fifth lesson of the movie: If You Find Out Your Friend — Who Is Apparently The Most Beautiful Woman Ever To Put On A Teddy — Is Kind Touching For A Living, Do Not Tell Your Husband, Because He Will Run Right Out And Nail Her For Money, Even If You Are Pregnant With His Spawn. Believe.
At this point, there’s only one thing to do: a Kind Touch montage, co-starring the boobs that should have gotten a top credit in the main titles.
Things are going swimmingly, with almost no effort. Because JLH couldn’t just be a punch-the-clock Kind Toucher. No. She has to be the best damn Kind Toucher there is. And you know she’s getting really good at it because she can wear that outfit on the left, which makes her look like a Whitesnake video vixen, without weeping all over the DAJ later. In fact, she is SO good at Kind Touching that she’s getting expensive presents from the johns, and the other Kind Touchers, whose touches are apparently not as Kind, drool all over the fact that JLH has men flying in on private planes just for her Kind Touch, and are all, “What does she have that I don’t have?” The answer, ladies, is a husband with a bum knee. You get one of those and you can Kind Touch yourself into fame.
JLH throws a huge pile of cash at her banker, without even giving him any cleavage to contemplate licking, and gives toys to the kids. For Christmas she even buys Jock Dullard the motorcycle he had pawned to make the mortgage payment, and in return, he gives her his business card: He’s got a job as a trainee for an extermination company. Not Kind Extermination, you understand; just straight-up bug zapping. As he details how humbling this is but how optimistic he insists on being, JLH nods and pats him — not a Kind pat; just a regular one — and patronizingly says, “That’s real good.” Presumably her commitment to Kind Touching is such that she leaves all the fancy language in her lingerie closet at work. But, as it turns out, that’s not where she leaves all her clients.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you go to Church and sit in the pew in front of your first client?
It looks like subtlety, Fug Nation. True subtlety.
But y’all, Kind Touching is REALLY tiring. And being a good Kind Toucher is flat-out exhausting, because you really commit to it. One night, JLH almost falls asleep at the wheel and crashes the car, while the DAJ is like, “I DO NOT CARE FOR YOUR ANTICS.” And that’s when one of your kindly touched men offers her cocaine. And she says, “Well, I don’t even smoke weed, because I’m a GOOD girl-who-Kind-Touches.” And the john is all, “Uh-huh. I’ll just leave this with you.” And the DAJ is all, “Bitch don’t you EVEN.”
Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you realize you are about to become a Coke Kind Toucher?
It takes JLH about five seconds to become a total Coke Kind Toucher, where she’s snorting it in the bathroom at work, at home, in the car, whatever, and looking suspiciously terrible while doing it.
Cybill Shepherd is all, “You’re losing your looks.” (No, really.) And the DAJ is all, “That’s it, ho, I forsake your ass.”
But she keeps doing it. Sixth lesson of the movie: Kind Touching And Being Rich Is Totally Worth It. Alas, Kind Touching while on coke means JLH is irritable and a bit rushed — so, not kind, as much as it is curt and perfunctory. And it’s not the Curt, Perfunctory Touch Health Spa, is it? Moreover, she snaps at her children. In one scene, her child goes, “Mommy are you getting more coke?” And JLH snaps, “WHAAAAAAAAT??!?!??!” but of course the child meant Coke, and JLH is like, “OMG,” and we’re all going, OH SNAP, and then later JLH shouts at her daughter when her daughter doesn’t want to pee in a cup at the doctor — no, REALLY — and that’s when JLH realizes she would rather Kind Touch than be a mother. Or it’s when she realizes she’s going insane. Because we’ve already established she’s kind of a self-involved asshat, it’s tough to read her signals sometimes.
But, remember that young evangelical Idol hopeful? Well, she finds out her pastor is getting Kind Touched — and not even by her! — while wearing the sweater she and the choir gave him for Secret Santa. And that is not the kind of Secret that Santa endorses, you dig? So she toddles across the street to the Christian Something-Something, and confesses everything about the Kind Touch Health Spa’s incredibly clever, deceptive name. This forces the cops — who have been Made Healthy up until now with Kind Touching — to bust that joint. And as all the Kind Touchers are sitting around getting booked, a cop waves a bag of coke in front of their noses and booms, “And whose is THIS?”
Pop quiz: When a cop waves a bag of coke in front of your nose and books, “And whose is THIS,” and there are several other Kind Touchers in the room whose it could be, do you:
b) Scream, “HERS,” and point to the nearest set of boobs;
c) Ask him why they’d have flour in a Healing Spa for Kind Touchers; or
d) Make this face:
The seventh lesson of the movie: When The Law Finds Your Stash, Look As Guilty As Possible, As If You Have Ten More Bags Stashed In Your Kind Cave.
Well, this is such a huge story that the newscasters actually break into a sporting event to report the bust-up of the Kind Touch Health Spa. And guess who’s at JLH’s friend’s bar, exterminating his sorrows? Jock Dullard, of course! And they all see JLH getting led out of the spa in her skivvies. So he goes and waits for her at home, and after the friend bails JLH out of jail — with a lecture about how stupid JLH is, which is like an hour overdue — JLH skulks inside and Jock Dullard flips on the light, and IT IS ON.
Just LOOK AT IT. Have you ever seen such milquetoast disgust? Such piercingly mild disdain? And the rebuke he delivers: So weakly stern! See, they had a dog, and he loved it, but it was dying. This made him sad. So they drove it to the vet and the dog was all sick and JLH cradled it and sang. She sang and sang and sang! Because he loved that dang dog. And so did she. He was a good dog, gol’ darnit! But when the time came, he couldn’t go in, so JLH carried the dog inside, and…. basically, twenty-five minutes later, the anecdote about her golden-voiced love of animals ends with him saying that whenever he thought of her, he thought of their dead dog. But now, he will think only of Kind Touching. This is apparently a downgrade. He gently hates on her one more time and she cries.
JLH’s lawyer friend, who is remarkably unfazed that JLH is a Kind Toucher, tells her she can go to the pokey — and not the Kind Touch kind of pokey — for two years, or she can hand over a list of her prominent clients and do almost no jail time at all. Because I guess the mayor wants… I don’t even know.
Eighth lesson of the movie: Blab.
And so, a full hour and forty-five minutes into the movie, we get the titluar Client List. A better title for this movie might have been, I Was A Really Boring Coke Whore For Like Ten Minutes. Adorably, there are sixty-nine — that’s 69, dudes — people on this list, and the whole town is abuzz with who might be on it. So the Kind Touchers, just for deflecting the blame for their life choices onto other people, get a reduced sentence of thirty days in the slammer. JLH is thrilled and Cybill Shephard shows up to look all proud.
Five weeks later: JLH is home alone, because Jock moved away with the children before she went to jail. And she’s lonely, y’all. But not fiending! Because she kicked Snow White in the joint, yo. Suddenly, a bevy of ladies from the neighborhood storm the fortress in their Sunday best, and JLH takes this chance to serve them iced tea and apologize for what she did, justifying that it was because she felt desperate. And they look at her with deep empathy, lean forward, and ask her for tips.
Ninth lesson of the movie: If Your Husband Goes To A Kind Toucher, Assume It’s Your Fault. Then Maybe Go To The Kind Toucher For Sex Advice, Because That’s Not Creepy Or Awkward At All. JLH goes and grabs some apples and a banana to teach them everything she knows. Because at the Kind Touch Health Spa, fruit salad isn’t just ON the menu, it IS the menu.
Then we find out one of the Kind Touchers is a waitress with JLH, who is going to night school. She also attends her kid’s birthday party, where Cybill apologizes to her and suggests maybe it’s her fault that JLH became a Kind Toucher because she always told JLH to get by on her looks, or somesuch.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you realize what movie you’re in?
Oh, Cybill. There were other clues. Like at the beginning of the hour, when you disparaged massage therapy, so JLH made a reference to you being a beautician by saying, “You wax hoo-has for a living,” and JLH’s kids asked what a “hoo-ha” was… and the only response any of you could come up with was to start singing, EN MASSE, “The Camptown ladies sing this song, hoo-ha, hoo-ha.” But no. You just let that happen. Tenth lesson of the movie: Your Memory May Go, But IMDb Is Forever. The taint of Kind Touchery is on you all.
And finally, Jock Dullard decides that after six months — which is apparently what it’s been — he’s totally ready to forget all about his wife Kind Touching other people, and wants them to get back together. Because if he can’t score touchdowns anymore, he should at least get a Kind Touchdown as a consolation prize. She is happy; he is happy. The DAJ, somewhere out in the car and not being cut to anymore, is all, “DUDE. I have notes.”
Fuggery: 3 out of 10. Aside from some dumb Kind Touch costumes, JLH wears some dresses that are kind of cute, especially the Stick It To Your Banker little-black-dresses.
Fromage: 9 out of 10. The dialogue appears to have been written with the aid of The Big Book Of Stereotypical Southern Expressions; JLH’s accent was purchased at half-price from the So You Want An Accent That Comes And Goes? aisle at Hack-Mart.
F*ckwittery: 10 out of 10. Does no one care about quality control at the Kind Touch Health Spa? They hired JLH without so much as an interview, and just got lucky when she turned out to be the most gifted Kind Toucher that Texas has ever birthed. When you guys are out there starting your surreptitious Kind Touch companies, do not count on getting that lucky.
Overall rating: 7 out of 10. Massage therapists the world over are saying, “Thank you, Jennifer Love Hewitt, for helping fuel the stereotype that we are all secret prostitutes.” And you know what? A real Kind Touch All-Star would’ve charged those ladies for those tips. I smell a sequel.