Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Jillian Rose Reed, Gary Busey, Andrew Lawrence, Nicole Garcia, Brianna Garcia, Andrew Caldwell, Andrew Miller, Kelly Mantle, Nosheen Phoenix, Patricia De Leon, Cynthia Murell
Confessions of a Womanizer is reminiscent of a certain kind of movie – the one about a selfish man who learns to respect women and in the process gets himself a girl. Joseph Gordon Leavitt did it in his stylish directorial debut Don Jon and Mel Gibson put it to the test not that long ago (well, long enough ago for Mel Gibson to have still been relevant and passing sexy) in What Women Want. It really is an age old tale and one that never quite seems to get it right – leastways not from a woman’s point of view. But I suppose that’s not the point. It is, after all, a man’s story and a man’s experience. It’s all about how a man comes to understand himself, and then after that maybe that man can work his way around to understanding the woman. Like most stories of this kind, Confessions of a Womanizer gets halfway there.
The story centers around Ritchie, a young man who decides early on in his life that love and commitment only leads to heart break for everyone involved. So instead of forming relationships or practicing celibacy, Ritchie decides to become an ardent and frequent womanizer. This is all fine and dandy until he deceives a young woman in order to get sex, leading her to believe that they are in a relationship. This opens up new and exciting possibilities for the primal and childish Ritchie who comes to realize that a relationship means that he doesn’t have to wear condoms. This leads to a number of monogamous arrangements that Ritchie exploits and eventually ruins through his commitment issues. One misguided realization leads to another, all in the attempt to receive sex without commitment or condoms, hurling Ritchie into a steep downward spiral to rock bottom.
While the script feels slightly contrived and overly repetitious, and the directing competent if a bit generic, the performances in the film are eminently watchable. The real stand out, as ever, is Gary Busey as the effusive, gesticulatory, and rambling restaurant owner Gary. He acts as a kind of mentor or guide for the confused Ritchie, however dubious that leadership might be. Director Miguel Ali admits that Busey mostly improvised his own lines as they filmed, feeling that he knew his character well enough to speak for him without using the written lines. The spontaneity is obvious, compelling, and entertaining. There’s really nothing like a bit of Gary Busey to liven up a movie. Another stand out performance is by the beautiful, funny, and genuine Kelly Mantle as Ginger the transsexual prostitute – and when he and Gary Busey meet, their interaction is something else to see.
Aside from that, at a decent 90 minutes long the movie still feels like it could be shorter. Not only is some of the sequences repetitive, some of the comedy bits don’t really seem to work to their full potential. There just seems to be something lacking in the timing or execution, and moments that should be laugh out loud funny are hard pressed to raise a chuckle. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is humorous and generally entertaining, but it’s not all it’s trying to be. You can’t discount its importance as a recovery film though, and seeing as how Miguel Ali wrote the script while he was in rehab for sex addiction, at least he knows something about what Ritchie is going through. In that sense, the movie is informative, enlightening, and heartfelt. Paired with the excellent performances and a truly ridiculous progression of events, Confessions of a Womanizer is worth a look.