Welcome to the fourth installment of Guaranteed Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition! In this special series of mini-recaps, the Agony Booth staff takes a long, unflinching look at the awful movies that are sure to be nominated for Razzie Awards in 2009!
Check out the other recaps in this series: The Love Guru by Ed Harris, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by Ryan Lohner, 10,000 B.C. by Jessica Ritchey!
So, I'm guessing the "gross-out romantic comedy"—that lively movie subgenre full of clichéd romance for the ladies, lots of puking and farting and shitting jokes for the guys—is never going away, is it? Because when relatively cheap movies like There's Something About Mary or The 40 Year Old Virgin or Wedding Crashers can make a gazillion damn dollars at the box office, you can't really blame everybody and their cousin for wanting to repeat the formula. Which is why for every Knocked Up, we get half a dozen alleged comedies (and past Razzie contenders) like Dirty Love and Good Luck Chuck.
The Hottie & the Nottie—the title alone is enough to make a person shudder—is the latest gross-out romantic comedy to find itself within the Razzie crosshairs. But to be fair, it's pretty far from one of the worst comedies I've seen. The movie's biggest sin is that it's just soul-crushingly lazy. Jokes are telegraphed from miles away. So are the plot points. And somewhere around the one-hour mark, it completely forgets to be a comedy, and transforms into a lifeless, lightweight chick flick for the remainder of its run.
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Occasionally while watching a bad film, it's possible to pinpoint the precise moment when the screenwriter ran out of ideas. The Hottie & the Nottie makes this game ridiculously easy. Not that this writer's "ideas" were all that amusing in the first place, unless you consider "women with excess body hair" the height of wit.
About the only thing I can say in the movie's favor is that after watching the trailer, I was expecting an aggressively vile film, something in the spirit of previous Razzie winners like White Chicks and Norbit. This movie is not that. In fact, pretty much all the gross-out moments are right there in the trailer. Because this is a movie that can't even muster up enough energy to be offensively raunchy.
You might be wondering, then, why such a stunningly mediocre film is about to be nominated for multiple Razzies. If so, you probably have no idea who's in it. Did you miss the big movie poster image directly above, and to the left?
Ah, yes: Paris Hilton. Not only does everyone's favorite heiress/celebutante star in The Hottie & the Nottie, and not only is she credited as an executive producer [!], but the poster even makes use of her trademark phrase ("that's hot"). And by "trademark phrase", I mean Paris Hilton actually trademarked the phrase "that's hot"™, and sued Hallmark Cards for using it. Even so, it's a pretty basic rule that if the movie uses a catchphrase that was all played out by 2004, it's bound to suck, and The Hottie & the Nottie is no exception. (Neither was Epic Movie, a film that couldn't even afford a cameo by the real Paris Hilton.)
But the real reason this film was savaged by critics is because Paris Hilton is the poster child for our current tabloid-blogosphere-TMZ-fueled obsession with the inane details of celebrities' social lives. At the same time, it's become hip among the more, shall we say, sanctimonious bloggers and critics to make knee-jerk declarations that the world is slowly getting dumber, to fondly reminisce about some golden intellectual age that never existed, and to piece together half-hearted comparisons between contemporary American culture and the fall of the Roman Empire. To those people, Paris Hilton represents the End of Western Civilization As We Know It.
Eh. To me, she's just a vapid socialite who got famous for being famous. Nobody really thinks this a new thing, do they? I mean, honestly, what the heck did Edie Sedgwick ever do, really? Why does everyone know the name Charo? Why the hell was Anna Nicole Smith famous, again? And what, exactly, has Carmen Electra ever done with her life?
If she gets an acting career, the terrorists will have won.
People act like it's a new, shocking, outrageous thing that someone with no perceptible talent became a household name. But if anything, Paris Hilton just breathed new life into an ages-old phenomenon. The only thing that's arguably different these days is that fame has become more pervasive, as people demand more and more information about celebrities at their fingertips. People complain that Paris and her ilk are always in our faces, and yet, her name is consistently one of the most popular internet search terms. Come now, Paris didn't make you type her name into Yahoo, did she?
Of course, Paris isn't really a celebrity for no reason. We all know the real reason she's famous, don't we? You might say the FOX reality show The Simple Life, but it was really her sex tape, quote-unquote "leaked" just weeks before the show's debut, that truly made her a star (subsequently inspiring her childhood friend Kim Kardashian to do the same thing).
But I have to give Paris some credit. I can't exactly say she's legitimized her fame, but she's at least attempted to become famous for something. Since the sex tape, she's become a model, a TV star, a fast-food pitchwoman, and she even put out an album that spawned a Top 20 single, "Stars are Blind" (none too surprising, considering UB40 took the song to #1 in the UK back when it was called "Kingston Town"). And, of course, inevitably, Paris decided she wanted to become a movie actress.
The Hottie & the Nottie is not her acting debut. It's not even her first lead role in a film. That would be National Lampoon's Pledge This!, filmed in 2004, but not released until two years later. And that movie is every bit the horror show you would imagine. It's exactly as repulsive as I thought Hottie & the Nottie would be. Paris truly deserved a Razzie nomination for that role, with the only problem being that the movie went straight to DVD. Without a theatrical release, it was ineligible for the Razzies, where it most certainly would have cleaned up.
Now that Paris has had the lead role in a movie that played in U.S. theaters for seven whole days, it's Open Razzie Season on her. But dare I say that Paris seems to have actually... improved as an actress since Pledge This? And that she actually manages not to completely embarrass herself here?
I'm sure a big factor is that she's not even in the movie all that much. Along with the transition from gross-out comedy to light melodrama, the movie forgets Paris's character even exists. All told, the "Nottie" gets way more screen time than the "Hottie".
Yes, Paris Hilton is the titular "Hottie". Sorry to ruin the surprise. And I won't deny she's hot in some respects, in that she's a skinny little skanky blonde who'd probably be a lot of fun to bang. But with her long, lantern-shaped head, ski slope nose, and droopy eyes, I don't think she's anyone's idea of a timeless beauty.
But hey, lots of films try their damndest to convince us the lead actress is the hottest thing on the planet. Who can forget guys fawning over a chubby Mariah Carey in Glitter (7 Razzie noms; 1 win)? Or Sean Penn mooning over a blank-faced Madonna in Shanghai Surprise (5 Razzie noms; 1 win)? Or Kate Hudson in, well, any film starring Kate Hudson? (Never nominated, but fingers are crossed this year for Fool's Gold and My Best Friend's Girl.) Are all these woman attractive? Of course. Would their mere presence reduce men to babbling idiots with no motor control, as this movie suggests would happen around our dear friend Paris? Doubtful.
But like every yin needs its yang, so too does every hottie need a nottie. In this case, the "Nottie" is Christine Lakin, formerly the hot, tomboy-ish daughter on the '90s sitcom Step by Step. Here, she's under a ton of makeup and prosthetics to make her repulsive, because there's really no other way to make her look less hot than Paris Hilton.
But guess what: it turns out the "Nottie's" actual hotness under all the latex becomes a plot point late in the movie! Surprising, yes?