There’s quirky-charming and there’s quirky-annoying. Quirky-annoying is when a character in a movie called Woman on Top has a malady that requires her to be on top in bed, leading her emasculated hubby to infidelity (and to a really unsubtle title). It’s when colorful natives make colorful offerings to goddesses who cause thunder and lightning when they’re crossed. It’s painting San Francisco as a kook-filled paradise bursting with lovable transvestites who have nothing better to do than sort out other people’s romantic lives. In short, it’s almost everything about this food-equals-passion flick that strains so hard to be charming it may well have pulled something.
Granted, Penélope Cruz is adorable as Isabella, the titular chef who escapes her philandering husband and makes it big as a TV-cooking-show host. And Oz’s Harold Perrineau Jr. swishes with the best of them as the aforementioned trannie. But burdened by too much cutesy magical realism and Isabella’s not-so-compelling dilemma (go back to her suave-but-too-macho husband, or go for her show’s nice-guy producer?), Woman falls as flat as the film’s requisite bad-karma soufflé. C-
WHAT WE SAID THEN: ” … has all the mood-enhancing flavor of a tropical cocktail made with watered-down rum and fake fruit juice.” D+ (#562, Oct. 6, 2000) – Owen Gleiberman
Woman on Top
2000 FOX 93 MINUTES RATED R ALSO ON DVD