Fast Food Fast Women  (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Although this is not really a mainstream mass audience film, it would make a very solid date film for a quiet evening at home, and we give it two thumbs up, assuming you like quirky romantic comedies to begin with.

Scoop's notes in white:

It seems to me that there is only one essential ingredient for the fairy tale type of romantic comedy - the audience has to root for the lovers to come together. If the audience gets involved in their story, then it works. They kiss, or they finally find each other, or they clear up all their misunderstandings, and that makes us feel good inside.

This little film, written and directed by Amos Kollek, works because he gets us involved in the two main romances which form the core of his fairy tale. Although the events which transpire in the film are not intended to be realistic, all four of the main characters seem like real people. All four of them are nice people who deserve to be happier, and who will move closer to happiness if they can pair up with the proper choice.

Bella is a sweet waitress in a New York neighborhood diner, who knows all her customers by name, and brings them the food they should eat instead of what they actually order. She uses her station as a waitress to be a confessor and mother to her customers. Her romantic match is a cabbie who is trying to write the great novel, while single-handedly caring for two children abandoned by his ex-wife, one of whom is his, both of whom he loves. The future lovers start off with a misunderstanding. Her girlfriend told her not to seem to be too eager to get married, and not to talk about how much she likes kids. Therefore, on her first date with the cabbie, she pretends to be the aloof New Yorker and, unaware of his single parenting responsibilities, tells him she hates kids. From the start, therefore, we can see that she is perfect for him, but he has no way of knowing that.

The other match-up is an elderly couple who are insecure about starting a sexual relationship. Hell, they're even insecure about dating. It's been 40 years! She thinks about not looking good naked. He's 70 and hasn't had sex in years, so he wonders if he can still get it up. As with the other story, we can see that they are a good match, but they can't.

Before I recommend the film to you, you need to understand that some of the plot twists are downright ludicrous. The stories make Cinderella and Pretty Woman seem like gritty realism in comparison. The New York of the movie is a romanticized, sanitized vision stripped of the con artists, druggies, hookers, grime and violence. New York is just a great big Gershwin show filled with earnest people, sparkling bridges, twinkling lights, bubbling champagne, and rich widows who leave all their money to kind neighbors. You have to suspend all disbelief and accept that. But if you can do so, the characters acting inside of those situations are real - you'll see yourself, your uncles and aunts, and many people you know. They will not only be people you know, but people you like. They are your best friends and your favorite uncles and aunts, the ones whose lives you'd like to be able to improve, if you could.

Because of that identification, you'll root for them to find each other and get the happy ending that the script eventually donates to them, because they have earned it. You'll overlook the outlandish plot twists (it is offbeat magic realism) and some of the amateurish performances (notably Anna Thompson and her elderly lover of the past 12 years, who's supposed to be some kind of producer or something), and just enjoy it as a "feel good" romance.

Will the real Skeletor please stand up?

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Fast Food Fast Women is a quirky romantic comedy that defines itself in the first scene. The star, Bella (Anna Thompson, aka Anna Levine, Anna Thomson) lies down flat on her back in the middle of a New York Street. A car screeches to a halt, the driver runs up to her, and asks if she is ok. Then he asks what she is doing. Her answer? "I'm just trying to put some excitement in my Sunday." The tone being set, we learn that Bella is 35, works as a waitress in a diner where she is held in high regard, has been engaged practically forever to a married stage producer, and is dreading her 35 birthday. Her mother sets her up with a divorced man, who is a relative of a friend. One of her friends advises her to say that she hates kids, so she won't scare him off. What they don't know is that he loves kids, and his ex wife recently dumped two on his doorstep - their daughter, and a son she had after they broke up on him.


All of the exposure is from Anna Thompson. First, we see her in a bath from the waist up, as she sits up and answers the phone. Then, we see her twice in a quaint ritual where she walks out on the fire excape, takes off the towel she dries herself with, and throws it to the street. There are definite breasts, buns through the railing, and possibly bush, but it is a long shot and hard to tell.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1.

As the trailer says, New York is too big a place for only one love story. Three old men are regulars at the diner; one of them answers a personals add, and meets Mary Hartman herself, Louise Lasser. Another of the men develops a thing for a dancer in a peep show, who claims to have her doctorate in Jungian psychology, but works mainly in fantasy fulfillment. Throw in a stuttering Polish prostitute who can't get many tricks, because they can't understand her sales pitch, and you have the major players.

The Critics Vote

  • The big guns just didn't like it at all, averaging one and a half stars. Roger Ebert 1.5/4, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly: D.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. Voting results: IMDb voters score it a fairly respectable 6.5/10
  • It grossed $186,000, never reaching more than 10 theaters at once.


Special Scoopy awards for excellence in criticism go to:

Order of merit in accuracy: Rob Blackwalder of Spliced Online got it exactly right: "Despite gross imitation and immature filmmaking, at the heart of "Fast Food" is an ensemble of characters -- vaguely interconnected New Yorkers fed up with looking for love after a certain age -- that, given time, you really begin to care about. The viewer has to willingly write off problematic absurdities along with the movie's other unavoidable shortcomings and contrivances to get to the meat in "Fast Food." But if you're willing to look for it, there is warmth and empathy at the core of this movie that can overcome everything about it that's frustrating. "

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says "C+. It works as an arthouse version of a romantic comedy. It even won me over, although some of the acting was weak and I don't really like this kind of romantic fantasy to begin with. It manages to overcome many liabilities because it does the one thing a romantic comedy has to do - it gets us rooting for the lovers to come together." Tuna says, "I adored the film, precisely because of the offbeat energy, and the fact that I really liked Thompson's character. The other romances were also touching in their own way. This film is not at all grounded in reality, as most of the above characters interact in what would be a set of one million to one coincidences, and there are fairy tale events in the third act. Despite that, it did ring true in the way people's fears and insecurities affect the way they relate to others. I suppose the proper score is C-, but I strongly recommend it to fans of odd little films."

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