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Is "Whipped" another midsummer's sex comedy? Oh yeah, but with a girl-power twist.

Woman On Top

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OK, "Whipped" is one of those movies you're either gonna love or hate.

What's your first clue? Try the movie tagline: "There's a fine line between getting laid and getting screwed." Part "Swingers" meets "There's Something About Mary" by way of "Sex and the City," this satirical do-si-do about three guys and the single gal who, uh, whips them into place is not for the candy-coated, hearts-and-flowers romantic. Not by a long shot.

While many films have tried to mirror the quality of writing and acting of "Swingers," few have delivered. "Whipped" is the latest glimpse into the world of "picking up," but with a heavy dose of feminine mystique.

First-time writer-director Peter M. Cohen asks the unthinkable: What happens when "playas" meet a gal who's got more game than they do? The fun begins with an in-your-face opening montage set to a blues-derived, hip-hop rock dilution from G-Love and Special Sauce that introduces Cohen's major players. There's Brad (Brian Van Holt), a well-dressed, Wall Street trader by day, who lobs uninspired pick-up lines at the trendiest bars by night. Next comes Zeke (Zorie Barber), an East Village neo-beatnik who gets his game on at coffeehouses with artsy chicks. Then there's Jonathan (Jonathan Abrahams), the sensitive J. Crew type who sweet talks his medicine cabinet as her peruses his wide array of lubricants for his nightly pleasure. He even gives his hand different girl's names.

Now, if you not only understood what the last description gently hints at but also chuckled, then "Whipped" will be a howling success. If you winced, don't count yourself out yet. You see, the fun of "Whipped" doesn't really start until the arrival of Mia (Amanda Peet).

Peet scored with audiences last spring in the Mafia-in-the-burbs comedy "The Whole Nine Yards," showing quite a knack for physical comedy. Here, the emphasis is more on her physical charms.

When Mia meets Brad, Zeke and Jonathan, she makes a date with each for the next week. When all three show up on the same night, we see little Mia isn't so innocent after all. Knowing she's found out, she tells them she couldn't possibly have a relationship with just one of them. She just likes each too darn much to have to choose. That's when Cohen strikes comic gold. Mia offers them a choice: She has a relationship with all three or all three can leave.

Since these trendy Casanovas are too cocky to step aside, they all end up dating her. And that means they start bumping into each other coming and going, and generally growing to hate each other.

All of this happens in the first 30 minutes; the rest of "Whipped's" screen time is spent poking fun at this headstrong trio who are too focused on the competition to realize the obvious — that Mia is a mega-playa. While they fumble, we get to laugh.

Combining some great dialogue with toilet humor (this is your second warning: I mean toilet literally), "Whipped" will be an acquired taste. And some will find it hard to overlook the acting weaknesses, especially during a couple of confrontational scenes between the guys. Peet gives the same, perky sexy performance here as in "The Whole Nine Yards," making it easy to cheer for her three-timing ways. Of the men, the standout is Judah Domke (Eric), who plays the fourth-wheel of this pseudo brotherhood and supposedly is "happily" married.

Don't go to this movie expecting to see a lot of sex; it's not there. (It got cut out when the MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating last spring.) What is there is plenty of sex talk and an insider's look at the "games" men and women play with one another. If you're not "whipped" — meaning you're still an active player in the dating game — the movie will humorously hit home.

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