Place a chick flick in San Francisco, and chances are you’re going to get something a tad racier than sappy romance. As The Sweetest Things romantic lead Thomas Jane puts it, “There are so many penises in this movie.” Does that mean the straight women of San Francisco worship the dong? Not exactly.

Much of the humor in The Sweetest Thing comes from the body and especially the penis. While Courtney (Christina Applegate) and Christina (Cameron Diaz) certainly focus on their own bodies at times, it’s the wang that whacks them and their fellow cohort Jane (Selma Blair) around. One of them even takes it in the eye…seriously. 

At a gas station, Courtney and Christina have to use the men’s restroom. As Courtney negotiates with the urinal (for which she is obviously not equipped), Christina gets the toilet stall and finds herself face to face with a painted puppy on the wall. As she sticks her eye to the mural to look through its hole, she gets quite a surprise.

“How could you not know what a glory hole is?” Courtney later questions her.

Christina says, “Well, unlike my friend Courtney Rockcliffe I do not spend my time in men’s public bathrooms, OK?”

But it would be a fair guess that most adults in San Francisco–certainly most young and sexually carefree adults like Christina and Courtney–would know a glory hole when they see it. If you learn anything from San Francisco, it has to be that, right?

The movie insists that if you’re a straight woman in San Francisco, you’re really really straight. But you’re not without your own hang-ups regarding the johnson. The ladies even have their own penis song, recognizing the fact that they have to coddle a guy’s junk to get some play. It’s not that their pleasure derives necessarily from the penis but that they acknowledge its importance in their sex lives. Christina’s dream dialogues with this axiom, where it is revealed that her ultimate fantasy consists of three things: calorie-free ice cream, cunnilingus on the hour and the revelation that men actually hate getting head. Tadgers are such a bother, y’know?

They are especially troublesome in a city that embraces tattoos and piercings. Especially when those piercings head down south. In one scene, police and paramedics and practically the whole neighborhood are in the apartment because Jane and her boyfriend are stuck together. The (unlikely) premise is that Jane’s boytoy has a piercing, and he’s stuck behind her tonsils. See, that’s what you women get when you have impressive deepthroating skills!

But phallocentrism isn’t something exclusively San Franciscan–just look at Cosmo’s monthly “how to please him” articles for proof. Nevertheless, The Sweetest Thing raises an interesting question: are San Francisco women smarter than the pecker or are they condemned for being such sexual cockwhores? Understand it this way: Nancy Pimental wrote the script as a celebration of her lifestyle and her girlfriends. Christina plays a role of power as a woman on the prowl. Both Christina and Courtney are professional women. These women are smart and understand the power relations involved in sex. Whether this is an effect of or simply in correlation to San Francisco culture is unclear. It’s true, though: even straight women in San Francisco tend to view sex differently than the rest of the United States.

Oh, yeah, and this movie is about romance or The One or something. But it’s San Francisco, so really it’s just about sex.

The Sweetest Thing is available on Amazon, Netflix and iTunes.

Starring San Francisco is Appeal culture reporter, Christine
Borden’s, take on the city’s cinematic past to illuminate today. Have a
locally-set film you’d like to see featured? Tell her at christine@sfappeal.com.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • generic

    I seem to remember some debate at the time about how this movie was the definitive illustration of the Marina Chick.