Title: That’s What She Said
Director: Carrie Preston
Cast: Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis, Alia Shawkat
From the title alone, one would think that this would be a bad movie. The title entirely cliche, playing off a (somewhat) bad joke from the TV series, “The Office” circa 2005. An almost 7 year joke that was tired as soon as it was in the pop culture discussion. A joke that really only worked when the character Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) would use it in an almost naive way. But what separates the good way the the joke is used in “The Office” and the title of this movie is that, at least with “The Office” it was used in a charming way with likable characters and situations. In “That’s What She Said,” it’s used in a middling waste of performances, hackneyed writing full of TV sitcom situations and complete unlikeable or relatable characters.
First off, this movie is only 84 minutes but it manages to waste so much of that time with an opening title sequence that really gives nothing to the central story or the character dynamics. Wasting at least 4 minutes of time introducing oddball situations, which can only be preserved as inept. “That’s What She Said” follows the story of two best friends, Bebe and Dee Dee (that’s right, these are their actual names), played by Marcia DeBonis and Anne Heche. Bebe has a new boyfriend and wants to tell Dee Dee all about him as Bebe prepares for an upcoming date. Dee Dee is a bit brash, an alcoholic with a “fuck everyone around me” attitude. Bebe (of course) is the complete opposite, caring, nice and naive. But when they meet Clementine (Alia Shawkat), their lives will be completely turned upside-down when they are forced to confront their inner demons.
Let’s be honest here, “That’s What She Said” is a terrible movie. Not only in story, but in character, direction, writing and performance. It’s bad across the board. The comedy doesn’t hit, relying on TV sitcom tropes. The character’s have very little nuance or sympathy and the narrative is all over the place. It’s as if “That’s What She Said” was written by undergraduate college students, writing a screenplay as a classroom exercise. Nothing is set up for us to believe that these people would be friends in real life, or the situations or scenarios. To me, it was completely laughable (in a bad way) for me to think that this was either edgy or compelling. “That’s What She Said” is a complete waste of time.
Perhaps the way to approach this movie is to look at it like a poorly written version of Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult.” Characters don’t have to be likable for an audience to be on board with it, but at least they have to be interesting. I would say, the only hint of interest for me was Anne Heche’s Dee Dee. This character is full of self-loathing and depth and she played charmingly enough by Anne Heche. But the filmmakers seem fit to thrust Dee Dee in horrible and cartoony situations instead of developing a deeper, more rich character. Why? The blueprints of a good movie seem to be there. Most of the cast fits the mold but at the end of the day, movies have to come down on the decisions of the filmmakers involved. And in “That’s What She Said,” the filmmakers just wanted to see these people in the most uninteresting and unbelievable situations, which translates to no fun for the audience.