When Wisegirls went into production, it boasted a seemingly formidable hook: a character turn from gazillion-selling megastar Mariah Carey. Alas, that was before the theatrical release of Glitter answered the questions about Carey's cinematic viability, and since then, the singer's stock has fallen sharply and dramatically. After an inauspicious debut on Shannon Tweed-loving pay-cable outlet Cinemax, Wisegirls arrives on video, where it seems destined to disappoint Mariah Carey diehards and Glitter-loving camp aficionados alike. As drably middling as Glitter was flamboyantly bad, Wisegirls stars underachieving Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino as a former medical student fleeing a lifetime of bad choices and worse luck. Arriving on Staten Island, Sorvino moves in with her senile grandmother and lands a job at a "classy" restaurant owned, operated, and populated by mobsters. Carey co-stars as the restaurant's star waitress, a sass-injected sexpot who isn't shy about putting grabby mobsters in their place. After a rocky beginning, Sorvino bonds with Carey and fellow waitress Melora Walters, but soon discovers the grisly downside of working for the mob. As the film's ostensible comic relief, Carey is all flamboyant hand gestures and exaggerated Noo Yawk accent. She's predictably unconvincing as a working-class princess, but Wisegirls' problems run much deeper than her performance. The film's tone varies wildly from scene to scene, and sometimes even from second to second. That identity crisis especially comes through in the film's performances: Carey is sketch-comedy broad throughout, while Sorvino opts for wan naturalism. The film takes a turn into thriller territory in its third act, which arrives complete with an implausible plot twist straight out of a Stephen J. Cannell cop show. Wisegirls is a little of everything and not much of anything, and when it made its debut on Cinemax, it was pretty much sinking to its natural level.
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