HOT CHICK - DVD review

It's sad and depressing when in order to get a laugh a Hollywood movie has to stoop to replaying gags that would have made the Three Stooges blush.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.
Puccio

"The Hot Chick" is another of those one-joke movies of recent years like "Sorority Boys." Once the gag is established, it's repeated in mindless variations until every ounce of fun it might have had is drained out of it. Needless to say, neither the joke nor the movie gets any funnier.

The film stars Rob Schneider ("Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo," "The Animal"), who minces, prances, sashays, falls down flights of bleachers, bounces off the wall, mugs unmercifully, and pees on the carpet in desperate attempts to be funny. But nothing works because the script hasn't an ounce of wit in it. The writers have taken an old idea, switching genders, and made it even more stale through repetition. About the only saving grace the film has is its being rated PG-13, meaning the grossness level can't rise too far out of control. But this is not saying a lot. That PG-13 is stretched about as far as decency allows, and some folks might even contend it was stretched too far.

Unlike most gender-bender comedies where men or women merely dress up as the opposite sex, in "The Hot Chick" a man and woman actually switch bodies. It all comes about when a beautiful, teenage, blond, airheaded, creep cheerleader (Rachel McAdams) steals a pair of 2,000 year-old, enchanted Abyssinian earrings from a shopping-mall trinket store (what are the odds?), loses one of them to an unpolished, thirty-year-old, dark-haired, airheaded, creep thief (Schneider), and then discovers to her dismay that by putting on the other earring she exchanges souls with the guy! So Schneider's character, Clive Maxtone, wakes up the next day with a beautiful female body, and McAdams' character, Jessica Spencer, wakes up with a guy's body.

That's the setup, and that's the movie. The rest of the story recounts their reactions to the new bodies they don't want: how they deal with the new bods and in Jessica's case how she tries to convince her female friends and her boyfriend it's really her old self underneath all the new body hair.

The biggest issue with the film is not just the tired premise but that neither of the people who exchange places is in the least bit likable. Jessica is vain, pompous, and mean-spirited, her idea of fun being to put a stolen article of store merchandise into a rival cheerleader's handbag and watching as security guards literally tackle the girl for theft. Clive is equally repulsive, an obnoxious slob who supports himself by pilfering anything he can lay his hands on. When he gets a new, female body, the first thing he thinks of is selling it for profit! Needless to say, the importance of Jessica being so wretched (and it is her story, after all) in the beginning of the movie is so that by the conclusion we can see the remarkably positive change that comes over her through her experience. The soggy, sappy, sentimental ending just makes things worse.

Even for a so-called comedy there isn't a moment that's not so exaggerated it's absurd. Schneider, for instance, playing a young woman in spirit but occupying a man's body, flounces around trying to seem girlish, pulling a guy's hair out, butting a woman unconscious with his head, and having constant trouble aiming straight when trying to relieve him/herself. None of this is funny, just pathetic.

It's a mark of the film's desperation that Adam Sandler is brought in to do a bit part as a dim-witted bongo-playing pothead, and not even he can elicit a smile he's so asleep in the role. The audience, it appears, is supposed to laugh at merely seeing Sandler show up: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, isn't that Adam Sandler, ha, ha. I'm assuming he did the part as a favor. Still, the mere presence of a comic actor in a non-comic part is no substitute for real humor if there's nothing humorous going on in the first place. The gag he's working, after all, goes back to Hope and Crosby in the forties and was recycled by Woody Allen in the early seventies.

Not even the film's editing holds up, with cuts to new shots leaving you to wonder what five minutes of the story was left out. When you realize that the filmmakers had enough leftover material to provide the DVD with fifteen deleted scenes, you understand why the movie seems so herky-jerky. Worse, the picture goes on for about a half an hour longer than it should, overworking what little material it started with.

Anyway, as a guy Jessica is even stupider than she was as a girl, and what might have been funny or at least sweet is played so broadly, it's all simply demeaning and insulting. Every cheap joke imaginable is trotted out about body parts and bodily functions and public urinals. I mean, not even the dumbest girl on the planet could be as naive as Jessica is at being a guy--getting into pillow fights with her girlfriends and throwing them six feet against the wall or fighting with a man by slapping him with limp wrists. Meanwhile, Clive's troubles as a girl are practically ignored, except to show us that he/she takes a job at a strip joint and lures men into alleyways to mug them.

"The Hot Chick" is an embarrassment to its actors and to its audience.

Video:
True to form, the worse the film, the better the video quality. Life is unfair. The picture is presented in a widescreen anamorphic ratio measuring about 1.77:1 across a typical television. Colors are clear, bright, radiant, positively glowing on occasion, with reasonably sharp definition and little or no grain to speak of. The image is a tad light in overall tone, however, and there are a few jittery lines in evidence now and again. What's more, the screen froze up momentarily more than a couple of times in my Sony 7700 before instantly resuming play. Only more-recent Buena Vista DVDs do this in my machine, not older BV discs or product from any other studio. It's odd, unless they've changed to a new mastering plan.

Audio:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is marked by its deep bass, robust dynamics, and quick transients. Unfortunately, there's little more than the front three speakers at work most of the time, the back channels given over mainly to faint musical ambience enhancement. But the sound is clean and quiet, and that should count for something. As to be expected from a modern movie, voices are firmly anchored in the center channel no matter where the location of the character on screen. Well, that's why the center speaker was invented, I suppose.

Extras:
Only dedicated fans of the movie would be attracted to the extras, but if you count yourself among them, there are a couple of interesting items. The first, of course, is the compulsory director's commentary, which I avoided playing since it would have meant watching a part of the film over again. No offense to director Tom Brady, who I'm sure is a fine gentleman with a mellifluous speaking voice; I simply had no ambition to embark on such a joyless task. Fifteen deleted scenes follow, including at alternate ending, each scene done up in a blurred, non-anamorphic widescreen and each scene requiring an individual click of the remote; no "play all" feature here. Next, there's a series of brief behind-the-scenes featurettes included in what's called "The Hot Chick Yearbook," with filmmaker comments on various aspects of the movie. Then, there's a music video, "Starlight," with Zed. And there are twelve scene selections. Twelve. That's three fewer chapter stops than there are deleted scenes. Go figure. English and French are the spoken language options, with Spanish subtitles and English captions for the hearing impaired. No trailers, either. Not even Sneak Peeks at other BV titles.

Parting Shots:
I couldn't help thinking as I watched "The Hot Chick" how dismal the movie comedy landscape in general has been over the last few years. Sure, there have been a few good subgenre films like the romantic comedy "Kate & Leopold" or the Coen brothers' musical comedy "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" or their black comedy "The Man Who Wasn't There"; but the last outright comedy that made me laugh was "There's Something About Mary," and that was back in 1998. It's sad and depressing when in order to get a laugh a Hollywood movie has to stoop to replaying gags that would have made the Three Stooges blush.

As I mentioned at the beginning, "The Hot Chick" is little more than a "Sorority Boys" clone, a one-joke wonder, the wonder being that it ever got made. For a better take on the enchanted role-reversal ploy, try Blake Edwards' "Switch!" (1991) with Ellen Barkin, where a chauvinistic womanizer turns into a beautiful female; it's not a great film, either, but by comparison it's a much funnier and more sophisticated variation on the theme. As for "The Hot Chick," it's not even lukewarm.

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
5
Film Value
3