I’m a film masochist. I like to test the limits of viewing. Not in violence or disturbing material, but in total garbage. So yes, I actually rented this dvd from Netflix and watched it. Straight through, without breaks. Some people will say that a film such as A Serbian Film will make them lose faith in humanity, for me, it’s films like these.
A Paris Hilton film vehicle is doomed from the start. Films like these also make me wonder who it is targeted at. Did they think people would want to see this ironically? As always, I try to give every film a chance- perhaps there was some redeeming quality. I am too kind.
I can argue that the performance of Joel David Moore as Nate, our “hero” of the story. Please note that he was also cast as a principal character in Avatar, and even featured a heavily CGI or whatever they used for the Avatar people, so, don’t feel too bad for him. It’s obvious this kid went to acting school but his nerdy and vaguely Jewish look limited his roles, and I guess he could take what he could get? I always get depressed watching good actors in horrible movies, just knowing how a bit of their soul died for every day they were on set.
Let;’s get into story, shall we? Paris plays Cristabel, the envy of all men. It’s actually surprising that her character was not just named Paris. We know nothing about her personality, except that she runs along a pier every morning and guys literally line up to see her and try to talk to her. It’s like she has to run a gauntlet of sexual assault. She is not a person as much she is a symbol for the loser men that want her: the unattainable dream. It doesn’t matter if she is nice, smart, what her hobbies are, it’s just assumed that any man, especially the nerdy ones would be lucky to have her.
Surprisingly, she pays attention to Nate. Now, I’m not subscribing to the bullshit archaic gender politics of the movie, but if the film is going to set up Nate is a nerd and loser, how are we now supposed to believe that Paris is attracted to him? I need logic in any movie if I’m going to be on board. That’s okay, because Paris is not a complete person, she’s a simple object that acts as a man’s fantasy.
There’s a catch- Paris has a hideous best friend, June, that Nate has to put up with in order to hang with Paris. Paris and June are best friends, and Paris is set on June finding love before she will be open to dating. Is this a Shakespeare adaptation? I wouldn’t be surprised.
As the designated “ugly” friend, I’d expect June to be either overweight, socially awkward, or a combo of both characteristics that films deem as awful and gross. Or, she is one of those female tropes in which she thinks she’s sexy but everyone is disgusted (i.e., Norbit) June is not just ugly, she’s a health disaster. She is unable to wash herself, her toenails and teeth are rotting. Forget the sin of not being attractive, this woman is both physically and mentally ill. Sure. Here is one time where the disgust is justified- this woman doesn’t need a makeover, she needs a doctor. Actually, Christine Larkin, underneath the grime and disease, is actually much prettier than Paris, so again, this is less believable and very contrived.
Shenanigans a-plenty as Nate hangs out with Paris but June does something disgusting to ruin their fun. Sight gags of accidentally ingesting her diseased, rotting toenail. Yes, that is the level we are dealing with. Eventually, they meet a hot dentist, who takes a great interest in June because he believes he can fix her teeth. Of course it’s weird, because he only has eyes for “the nottie” and that’s part of the humor. Oh my god! An attractive man is interested in the weirdo! Hot dentist, for some reason, helps her become more attractive.
Now, here’s the most baffling part of all this: June, as she becomes less disgusting emerges with a wonderful personality. A woman who lives in a constant life of physical deformities and disease doesn’t suddenly become well-adjusted. You don’t need Feminism 101 to know that the message here is that well-being is tied to attractiveness. You also don’t need a high IQ to learn that Nate ends up with a newly made-over Paris, after learning that Paris is actually superficial.
Of course, June takes him, never mind the awful thoughts he had about her beforehand. Because she is just lucky to be loved by a man. Yawn.
I am giving this film too much credit by even applying a sexist critique to it. It doesn’t even deserve it; the reality which this film is set in is preposterous and to say it is sexist would actually be giving this film credit for being something. It’s barely even a comedy. There are no jokes, and not in an Andy-Kaufman anti-joke type of way. It seems the writers are relying too much on the gross-out and “isn’t this a weird situation”. There are attempted poignant moments that are too little, too late.
It is likely that this film was made as a vehicle for Paris Hilton, knowing that any film should give her any challenges in the acting. It’s the type of movie that is so off-putting that it’s not even worth laughing ironically. There will be no cult following or midnight screenings of this, ever. I will not lovingly reference this film like I do the notoriously bad “Showgirls.” Let’s just all pretend this never happened. I’ll bet Joel David Moore wants to.