In the romantic comedy Some Prefer Cake, new girlfriends Robin and Kira go camping (a clear rite of lesbian relationship passage), but their attempts to have a serious conversation are foiled by a friendly hippie who insists on singing for them. One of the selections is a tune titled “Ode to a Leaf.”
This situation is one of several that make the movie, which was released in 1998 and is now available on DVD, genuinely funny. Some Prefer Cake has a lovable stable of characters and a fun plot, though one of the core performances is rather pedestrian. Director Heidi Arnesen has a light touch with her characters, and the pacing is quick and lively, making Cake a worthwhile mix.
As the film opens, Kira (Kathleen Fontaine) is a terrible comedian who has much more luck with women than she does with her audiences. Kira is a classic underdog: She has talent, as she writes all the material for her wildly successful sister (also a comic), but she lacks the confidence to shine onstage.
Kira's circle of friends include her slightly neurotic, but very likable, straight best friend Sydney (Tara Howley), her earth-mother roommate Susie, and her delightful gay friend Devon (Leon Acord).
The movie's central theme — and the inspiration for its title — is Sydney's insistence that if given the choice, most women will prefer a piece of cake to sex. Kira, ever the player, scoffs at the notion. Through the course of their misadventures, each woman comes to see the wisdom of the other as they weather turbulent patches in their friendship.
Sydney insists on helping Kira find a girl who will mean more than just sex to her, and this means going to one of Susie's lesbian sushi nights. Sydney also imparts words of wisdom, claiming that you can learn a lot about a person by the way they eat sushi. It's one of the most uproarious scenes in the film, and it sets up Kira's fateful meeting with Robin (Desi del Valle), the would-be girl of her dreams.
The film is light and funny, though there are a few cringe-worthy moments. Kira is certainly believable as an unfunny comedian; the only problem is that she isn't funny offstage either, which completely ruins some excellent opportunities for laughter. Fontaine isn't hapless or innocent enough to be entertaining while playing “unfunny,” and Kira generally just comes across as irritating. This really kills certain parts of the film and prevents Cake from being a total winner.
Luckily, the rest of the cast makes up for Fontaine's performance. Katie (Machiko Saito) is hilarious as a slightly psychotic, jilted one-night stand who keeps coming back to haunt Kira. Katie stirs up trouble with all of Kira's friends, steals her clothes, and even delivers one of the greatest lines in the movie. Upon learning that Kira is a comedian, she quips, “Really? You don't seem funny.” Saito is an incredible scene-stealer and plays Katie with fantastic comedic instincts.
Tara Howley is perfect as Sydney, capturing both her sensitivity and her slightly manic side. Sydney faces the challenge of being supportive to her friend while also dealing with her own insecurities (not to mention jealousy), and she also has some of the funniest scenes in the film.
At one point, she breaks into her neighbor's house to retrieve some eye drops she left behind during an earlier, inadvertent break-in, and chalks it all up to “rehearsal” when a nosy neighbor drops by. Sydney is easily more likable than Kira is, and she is often more fun to watch.
As the film develops, Kira improves her comedy (at least her audiences seem to think so) and attempts to have a relationship with Robin. Sydney becomes jealous, and she and Kira fight much more viciously than any of the lovers in the film ever do. It's interesting to note this intimacy and intensity in the Kira-Sydney friendship; they really do have a great deal of chemistry. Though Sydney is straight, it's almost played as if there is a history between the two, and it works curiously well for the story.
Some Prefer Cake earnestly champions love and friendship, and it is certainly a fun and sunny concoction. Though Kira's needlessly clunky delivery sometimes kills the moment, the supporting characters (not to mention Sydney) more than pick up the slack, giving Cake a whimsical and hilarious tone. It isn't perfect, but Some Prefer Cake is sweet and funny, with more than its share of fantastic moments.
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