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Phat Girlz Reviews

Inside star Mo'Nique's larger-than-life, fat-abulous comedy is a malnourished little fable about self-love and beauty coming in all shapes and sizes. Sassy aspiring fashion designer Jazmin (Mo'Nique) has lived her life in the barely there shadow of her cousin, Mia (Joyful Drake), an aerobicized-to-the-bone gym rat whose idea of indulgence is a protein patty — hold the bun — at the local Fatassburger. Jaz talks a good big-and-beautiful game, but secretly hates her jiggling hips and bountiful booty as much as best friend Stacey (Kendra C. Johnson) hates the generous curves she hides under loose tops and boxy jackets. And they both loathe their department-store jobs, which involve spending all day assuring scrawny blondes that they do not look fat in those pencil-leg jeans, strappy slip dresses and belly-baring baby tees. Things look up when Jaz wins a diet-product sweepstakes and gets to spend a week at a five-star spa resort in Palm Springs with two of her closest friends. In fact, she has no idea how much things are looking up. The vacation coincides with a convention of African doctors, and slender Mia gets a sudden, bitter taste of what it's like to be the third wheel: Those studly Nigerian physicians love a lady with some meat on her bones. Shy Stacey is drawn out of her shell by handsome Dr. Akibo (Godfrey), while sophisticated Dr. Tunde (Jimmy Jean-Louis) flirts with Jaz. Mia gets stuck with Dr. Godwin (Dayo Ade), who's so embarrassed by being seen with a toothpick girl that he assures everyone she's a patient he's treating for malnutrition. But just when things are going well, Jaz nearly ruins it for herself by listening to the poisonous voice of self-hatred, which whispers that she's a fat cow and no decent man will ever love her. If writer-director Nnegest Likke's booster speech in movie form were as funny as it is relentlessly on-message, it would be a world-class gut buster. But even Mo'Nique's outsize presence isn't enough to make ancient gags about stuck-up popular girls ("skinny bitches," in Jaz's no-holds-barred parlance) or about voluptuous vultures clearing a whole buffet table in one fell swoop funny. That said, mainstream American comedies in which the words "female circumcision" are so much as mentioned — let alone the subject of a joke — are rare, so this limp farce can legitimately claim to have broken a sliver of new ground.