Phat Girlz is a pretty fat-tabulous' comedy that may be a little preachy but teaches a good lesson. Whatever body type, you should walk away from this film with stronger self-esteem.
Aspiring fashion designer Jazmin Biltmore (Mo'Nique) is "plumper than a roast and thicker than most"--and has the attitude to match. But winning a trip to Palm Springs proves to be a life-changing vacation for Jazmin, as well as her frumpy, plus-sized friend Stacy (Kendra C. Johnson). There's also Jazmin's "minus-sized" cousin Mia (Joyful Drake), who only comes along to find herself some rich eye-candy to spend her week with. After spotting her prey--a tall, very dark and handsome Nigerian doctor named Tunde, (Jimmy Jean-Louis), Mia is peeved when Tunde spends more attention to her slightly larger cousin. As it turns out, African men believe the bigger a women is the more beautiful she is, so Tunde thinks of Jazmin as his thick madam.' The problem is Jazmin's self-esteem. At times she is big, black, beautiful and proud, and at other times, she is just plain big, trying to summon up the courage to get out of bed every morning. The lack of love she has for herself may get in the way of her love for Tunde.
Since the script was written with Mo'Nique (Queens of Comedy) in mind, it's no surprise how well she, er, fits the character. The comedienne herself is, of course, a plus-sized woman, so the anxiety and fear Jazmin feels seems very real. But Mo'Nique also has that brilliant comic flair, which amps things up. Playing her less sexy and even less outgoing plump friend Stacy, Johnson makes a seamless transition from overweight and shy to overweight and ready to party--thanks to her relieving some pent up sexual aggression. With dimples for days, Louis heats up the screen with a perfect 10 body and hot African accent. And his love for big women only makes us swoon even more. Drake as Mia, on the other hand, has as much depth as a bowl of cereal. As a fitness instructor who flaunts her ASS-ets, she really doesn't add anything to the film except for a skinny' perspective.
First-time writer/director Nnegest Likke knows a little (or is that a big?) something about being overweight in a world obsessed with skeletal figures--and Phat Girlz is her love letter to those women of all shapes and sizes. Of course, the story is more than a little contrived, but it does offer a perfect chance to come up with some great jokes. When Jazmin causes a scene at a local fast food restaurant after the cashier calls her a "fat bitch," the punch lines come out, both on being fat and ugly, i.e. "you so ugly, your birth certificate was actually an apology letter from the condom factory to your parents." It is hilarious yes, but the hurt still registers, especially on Jazmin. Phat Girlz preaches a lesson we've all heard before--that regardless of how you look, you should love yourself, no matter what--but it's definitely one worth repeating.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.