August 8, 2003 -


Rated:   R (language, sexuality)
Length:   90 minutes

Movie Review 
(Grade C-)

By GARY DOWELL / The Dallas Morning NewsWriter-director Michel Maher's Garmento strives to be a tongue-in-cheek exposť of the ugly side of the fashion industry, cheerily and painstakingly pointing out the obvious.

Young New Yorker Grindy Malone (Katie MacNichol) lands a job that can only be found in the movies, working as the assistant to CEO Ronnie Grossman (David Thornton) for Poncho Ramirez Inc., a clothing company that has hit the skids.

Its latest disaster is a line of men's briefs with a monstrously padded cup marketed with the slogan "Criminally large."

Grindy suggests reviving Poncho's once-popular line of blue jeans. Having been out of the blue jeans business for some time, the CEO accepts an offer from sleazy rival Romeo Jeans to combine their companies. A pseudo-pedophilic advertising campaign sends sales into the stratosphere. Of course, what goes up must come down, and everyone involved scrambles for cover.

As a satire, Garmento is toothless. As a comedy, it's funny only in spurts. It does reach a moment of brilliance when, faced with a denim shortage, the company begins counterfeiting its own jeans in order to meet demand.

Ms. Maher succeeds in skewering the heroin-chic era of Calvin Klein, but it's an outdated target at best.

Ms. MacNichol, whose short list of previous credits includes a supporting role in Spike Lee's Bamboozled and two episodes of The Practice, is enjoyable as Grindy, although the arc of her character, naive bumpkin to wicked fashionista to fallen angel, is too unlikely to be believed.

Most of the rest of the cast barely registers, but Juan Carlos HernŠndez is a hoot as the flouncing, oblivious, tantrum-prone fashion designer Poncho, as is Sandra Santiago as his acid-tongued sycophant. It's the kind of manic energy that Garmento needs.

Published in The Dallas Morning News: 08.08.03