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Itty Bitty Titty Committee

Great title, shame about the movie. That's likely to be the most common reaction to indie comedy "Itty Bitty Titty Committee," about a young lesbian who joins a posse of feminist pranksters. With its particular brand of radical feminist politics and "Riot Grrrl" soundtrack, third feature by helmer Jamie Babbit feels quaintly retro, but that's not enough to redeem pic's hardly witty script.

With:
With: Melonie Diaz, Nicole Vicius, Daniela Sea, Carly Pope, Lauren Mollica, Deak Evgenikos, Guinevere Turner, Melanie Mayron, Ana Mercedes.

Great title, shame about the movie. That’s likely to be the most common reaction to indie comedy “Itty Bitty Titty Committee,” about a young lesbian who joins a posse of feminist pranksters. With its particular brand of radical feminist politics and “Riot Grrrl” soundtrack, third feature by helmer Jamie Babbit (“But I’m a Cheerleader”) feels quaintly retro, but that’s not enough to redeem pic’s hardly witty script. Nevertheless, “Committee” is likely to round up a quorum of support through gay and lesbian film fests and may develop eeny-weeny cult following on ancillary.

Los Angeles-dwelling Latina Anna (Melonie Diaz from “Raising Victor Vargas”), fresh out of high school, works as a receptionist in a plastic surgeon’s office and spends her off time moping about having split up with her g.f. Her family completely accepts her sexuality, although her mother (Ana Mercedes) still wishes she’d wear some make-up for her sister’s upcoming wedding.

One night Anna sees sexy Sadie (Nicole Vicius), one of the founding members of feminist guerrilla group Clits in Action (or the “C(I)A”), spray-painting an anti-boob-job slogan on the front of Anna’s office building. Anna is intrigued.

Invited by Sadie, Anna meets the rest of the C(I)A: self-righteous intellectual Shulamith (Carly Pope), frustrated artist Meat (Deak Evgenikos), and woman-to-man wannabe transsexual Aggie (Lauren Mollica). Before long, Anna is joining in the C(I)A’s direct actions, which include defacing billboards for bikinis, erecting a homemade statue of Angela Davis in a public park and other hijinks. 

On the way up to Sacramento where the C(I)A plans to take part in a demonstration against gay marriage (because marriage is “binary” and based on an institution designed to repress women), Anna and Sadie finally shag. But, Sadie is in a long-term relationship with older woman/old-skool feminist Courtney (Melanie Mayron, once upon a time the single-earring-wearing character Melissa in “thirtysomething”).

Per helmer Babbit during post-screening Q&A in Berlin, the C(I)A’s antics are based on those of real-life, originally Gotham-based feminist group the Guerrilla Girls. If so, what a shame screenwriters Tina Mabry and Abigail Shafran didn’t just steal some of the GG’s sharper slogans and poster designs, because this fictional group’s idea of satire is pretty lame. 

Indeed much of the humor is fairly juvenile, perhaps deliberately so, as if the filmmakers were aiming to raise consciousness among teenage, proto-feminists. As is, pic’s core constituency is more likely to be women’s studies students and alumni from the Seven Sisters colleges or other liberal arts faculties.

Babbit’s helming has gotten marginally more accomplished since she made “But I’m a Cheerleader,” perhaps due to practice on such TV shows as “The L Word,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Ugly Betty,” all of which are far more entertaining, and even more provocative, about gender politics.

Unfortunately, her shock tactics, aired also in “The Quiet,” are far less subversive than her presumed exemplars, such as queer-cinema granddaddy John Waters or even ’70s helmer Lizzie Borden, whose “Born in Flames” is weakly recalled here. Nor has Babbit’s skills with thesps improved much, judging by the stiff perfs she elicits from her admittedly toothsome cast.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee

Production: A Power Up presentation of an Andrea Sperling production, in association with Lisa Thrasher. (International sales: Power Up, Los Angeles.) Produced by Sperling, Thrasher. Executive producer, Stacy Codikow. Directed by Jamie Babbit. Screenplay, Tina Mabry, Abigail Shafran.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Christine A. Maier; editor, Jane Abramowitz; music, Radio Sloan; production designer, Nina Alexander; art director, Christina Hulen; costume designer, Melissa Meister; sound (Dolby Digital), Josh Bissett. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 10, 2007. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Melonie Diaz, Nicole Vicius, Daniela Sea, Carly Pope, Lauren Mollica, Deak Evgenikos, Guinevere Turner, Melanie Mayron, Ana Mercedes.

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