Paris Hilton, Christine Lakin, Joel David Moore, Johann Urb, The Greg Wilson
The easiest way to describe "The Hottie and the Nottie" is this..."The Hottie and the Nottie" is the Paris Hilton of contemporary cinema.
No, silly. I don't mean that it's rich, semi-good looking and destined to inherit millions.
I'm talking about the OTHER Paris Hilton. You know the one? Cheap, tawdry, unfunny, self-absorbed, unskilled, untalented and, yet, somehow still manages to get a huge platform upon which to play.
Uwe Boll gets films financed and, somehow, Paris Hilton keeps finding acting work.
Life is weird.
"The Hottie and the Nottie" is the story of Nate (the frequently awful Joel David Moore), an assholish 20-year-old who gets dumped by his girl and fondly chases down/stalks the object of his first grade affections, Cristabel (Hilton).
Of course, Cristabel is now a "hottie" but, because she's a principled girl ya know, she has a "nottie friend" named June (Christine Lakin) and Cristabel refuses to even consider Nate until June herself has a man.
June makes Ugly Betty look downright glamorous, with her foot fungus, facial blisters and hair in places hair just shouldn't be. Much like "Bratz: The Movie," "The Hottie and the Nottie" pretends to teach us lessons about inner beauty while rapidly dissolving into a billboard for the miracles of plastic surgery and Bratz dolls.
Director Tom Putnam is unlikely to end up in the brochure for his alma mater, USC School of Cinema-Television, anytime soon with a directing style than can be best described as slipshod, chaotic, ill-conceived and simply catering to executive producer Hilton's desire for a series of glamour shots. It's actually a bit surprising given Putnam's previous film, the solidly done documentary "Red White Black & Blue."
Screenwriter Heidi Ferrer, previously known primarily for her television series work on shows such as "Dawson's Creek," has concocted here a film with virtually no appealing characters, completely devoid of laughs, no heart to speak of and, despite its lofty intentions, nothing even remotely resembling a positive moral or message.
In other words, it's impossible to laugh, feel good, learn or be entertained while watching "The Hottie and the Nottie."
Really, what else is there?
Hilton, whose self-proclaimed aspirations to decrease partying and become a serious businesswoman appear to be flailing badly, is simply ineffective here even when playing a not so distant variation of herself.
Does she have potential as an actress, perhaps? Well, no, actually she doesn't. Hilton could potential make a dent as a producer, given that she obviously flirted her way into financing this film, however, Hilton's self-consciousness and inability to produce a decent performance playing herself leaves her in the Madonna school of acting.
Actually, and I never thought I'd say this, Madonna plays Hilton away even with her own limited range.
The weirdest thing of all is that Hilton, unimaginably, is not the worst thing about "The Hottie and the Nottie."
That honor may very well fall to Joel David Moore ("Grandma's Boy"), an increasingly inept actor who showed potential in "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" but who has since become a mere blip on the Hollywood map.
Christine Lakin ("Chronic Town"), as the "Nottie" best friend forever, emerges relatively unscathed despite scenes that set her up even worse than poor Alyson Hannigan fared in "Date Movie."
The film's loser guys, on the other hand, are universally horrid including perpetual bit player Johann Urb and some dude who has the balls to call himself "The Greg Wilson," a self-confidence that leads one to be grateful that there may, in fact, be only one Greg Wilson.
Virtually every aspect of production in "The Hottie and the Nottie" falls short, most notably Alex Vendler's frequently out of focus cinematography.
It's only five weeks into 2008, and I've already reached last year's total of three "No Star" ratings with Larry the Cable Guy's new flick, "Witless Protection," coming out in the next month.
Sigh. 2008's looking like a long year for movie fans. This "Hottie" is definitely a "Nottie."
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic