Short takes

Phat Girlz

Phat Girlz

The Benchwarmers
Dir. Dennis Dugan. 2006. PG-13. 80mins. Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder.
Who knew nerds were just frustrated athletes? Middle-aged SNL dorks Rob Schneider and David Spade team up with neospaz Jon Heder (rehashing his Napoleon Dynamite shtick) to form a geek-pride baseball trio that takes on those bratty Little Leaguers coached by titty-twisting jock dads. Low-wattage star power and a strikeout script make this witless revenge fantasy a misfit misfire. Its only MVP: Jon Lovitz as a Batmobile-driving loser-turned-billionaire who bankrolls the dweebs’ efforts and calls on childhood friend Reggie Jackson to give them pointers. (Now playing; see Index for venues.)—Stephen Garrett

Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story
Dir. Brant Sersen. 2004. N/R. 90mins. Rob Corddry, Paul Scheer.
This intermittently amusing mockumentary about a disgraced paintball legend (The Daily Show’s Corddry) who returns to the game lacks the sly subtlety or effervescent chemistry of Christopher Guest and his crew. The actors, mostly Upright Citizens Brigade alums, work hard to be funny (always a bad sign) and are clearly having a great time playing off one another. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm doesn’t translate into many laughs. (Opens Thu; Pioneer. See also “Splatter film,” page 93.)—Raven Snook

Herbie Hancock: Possibilities
Dirs. Doug Biro and Jon Fine. 2006. N/R. 90mins. Documentary.
To many, Herbie Hancock is best known as the guy behind 1983’s scratch-happy “Rockit.” Yet by that time the jazz pioneer had already been in the music biz for a quarter of a century, including a period spent honing his skills under Miles Davis. This tribute to this easygoing genius chronicles Hancock’s collaborations with artists including Sting, Joss Stone, Brian Eno and John Mayer for the 2005 album Possibilities. Directors Doug Biro and Jon Fine are veterans of the music-video scene, which shows in their liberal use of split screen and skewed angles. Even though the film feels like an extended ad at times, it’s effective: By the end, you’ll want to buy the CD. (Opens Fri; Quad.)—RS

Phat Girlz
Dir. Nnegest Likk. 2006. PG-13. 99mins. Mo’Nique, Kendra C. Johnson.
Heavy on plot twists and skimpy on big laughs, Phat Girlz proves that finding love as a plus-size diva in a small world isn’t easy—unless a dreamy Nigerian doctor with a godly bod stumbles upon you. Wanna-be fashionista Jazmin (Mo’Nique) and best gal pal Stacey (Johnson) try to escape a life of diet pills and no frills by expanding their department store’s full-figured section. They triumph over the fatphobic through vigorous boot-knocking and rapid career advancement, with a few massive meltdowns on the way to self-acceptance. Too bad the weird Mandingo references are too nasty to swallow. (Now playing; see Index for venues.)—Cherie Dennis