Woman on Top (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Robbins recipe: Pillow Talk meets Like Water for Chocolate.
I hate friggin' magical realism even when it's done well, as in Like Water for Chocolate. But when they need a mystical sea goddess to resolve a romantic comedy, well, that stretches me beyond the call of duty. Oh, yeah, there's also magical food and flowers, and curses.

Imagine Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Give them charming Latin accents. Stir in some miscellaneous gimmicky "charm" - she has motion sickness unlss she is in control. She must drive when in a car, and must be on top when she makes love. For some reason this doesn't affect her when she flies the 11 billion miles between Brazil and San Francisco. I guess her sea goddess was watching over her, having negotiated a deal with the air goddess.


Penelope Cruz showed her buns in one love scene (and a hint of pubes), and teased in another.

She caught Toninho with a dark-skinned woman whose breasts were visible.

It's a romantic comedy which is pretty romantic, but not so funny at all. Just a romance, and a mystical one at that.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 2.35:1. The ads say anamorphic, 1.85, both of which are wrong.

  • no features

Penelope Cruz runs away from Brazil when she catches her husband with another woman (he just had to be on top - just once!). She runs to San Francisco, develops a local cooking show about Brazilian cuisine, has a brief fling, becomes a network star, her husband chases her down from Brazil. What will she do?

The film does look pretty darned colorful, and has Penelope Cruz, which is something pretty electrical at times. It has the easy-listenin' type of Brazilian "Girl from Ipanema" type of music, and not a mean bone in its body. You won't find it hard to watch, it has a heart-warming ending, but there's no substance, and no laughs to speak of.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two stars. Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4, Apollo 49.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 29% positive overall, 20% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.6, but Apollo users a savage 26/100. These scores are consistent with the critical consensus.
  • With their dollars ... it wasn't a smash hit, probably will break even after everything. Budget $8 million, domestic box $5 million. They thgought it would do better, and it got a pretty wide 1000 screen release.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or 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. 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, this film is a D+ . I like a good romantic comedy, but not this one. It is watchable only because of the pretty sights and sounds and good production values.

Return to the Movie House home page