June 6, 2003 - The New York Times - Review -
"Pointing Fingers at the Fashionistas"

"Well the usual suspects from Seventh Avenue are in full noxious flame in "Garmento," Michele Maher's scattershot satire of the fashion industry and its sins. Leading the list of strident prima donnas in a film that would be twice as funny if it tried half as hard, is Poncho Ramirez (Juan Carlos Hernandez), a flouncing, tantrum-throwing jeans designer whose career is on the skids. Poncho is protected with mama-lion ferocity by his shrill, snootier-than-thou Italian business partner, Franca Fortuna (Saundra Santiago).

After Poncho bellyflops with a line of men's underwear whose padded cup is conceived as the male answer to the Wonderbra, his company, in desperation, decides to revive his defunct line of disco-era jeans. It pins its hopes on a scandalous ad campaign that invokes sadistic pedophilia. PR jeans, as they are called, are soon all the rage again, And the company, desperate to go public but faced with ruin by a sudden shortage of denim, resorts to pirating its own line by sticking new labels on the unsold stock of another brand and selling it to discount stores.

This is a world where most business conversations are screamed. The company president, Ronnie Grossman (David Thornton), yammers about money being the key to happiness and whiles away the hours behind closed office doors slamming a punching bag with a baseball bat. In his quest for happiness, he teams up with Ira Gold (Jerry Grayson), a disreputable, porcine former business partner of his father. In the past, Ira has been known to hijack his own trucks to sell off the garments. The story is told through the eyes of Ronnie's protégé, Grindy Malone (Katie MacNichol), an ingénue who becomes a Machiavellian monster the moment she has a makeover that transforms her from red-dress dowdy into black-clad chic.

Although "Garmento," which opens today in Manhattan, at the Village East (Second Avenue at 12th Street, East Village), exhibits a flailing comic energy, its eagerness to condemn everything about Seventh Avenue, along with its sub-par acting and a choppy narrative style that finally runs amok, lends it a tone of hysterical finger-pointing. Its most obvious satirical target is Calvin Klein in the era when his jeans ads, featuring wasted, blank-faced teenage wraiths, were denounced as "heroin chic." But that was then. Will anyone care now?

"Garmento" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has profanity and sexual situations.

Directed by Michelle Maher
R, 97 minutes." - Stephen Holden"

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