Film Reviews

Hot? Not.

If you already know that female and male humans employ somewhat different strategies for relieving themselves of liquid waste, you're in for no surprises in Rob Schneider's latest look-at-me-I'm-so-cute comedy, The Hot Chick. Every few minutes a dumb pee-pee gag rears its little head, usually as Schneider bumbles around half-clad in what appear to be Christina Aguilera's Goodwill donations. A mind of overcooked pasta and a stomach of iron may get you through this, but it really is worth considering how desperately you need cheap chuckles while executive producer Adam Sandler and his favorite charity case laugh all the way to the bank.

The premise is that a revolting petty thief named Clive (Schneider) accidentally finds himself -- sort of Freaky Friday-like -- in the body of a woman. To be more precise, the chassis he lands in belongs to the titular hot chick, a high school cheerleader named Jessica (Rachel McAdams), whose penchant for cruel behavior outstrips her negligible charms. He's a pig who suddenly finds himself sex-ay, but naturally the visible Schneider hogs the movie, keeping his potentially amusing co-star's "male" appearances to a bare minimum. Meanwhile, she wakes up with the raw deal of his awkward physique. One might say that with this role, perpetual underdog Schneider finally gets to have his pie and be it, too.

If that sounds crude, hang tight. The movie -- miraculously rated PG-13 to lure the kiddies -- commences in Abyssinia, circa 50 B.C. In what seems to be scrap footage from Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" video, a queen on the brink of marriage uses enchanted earrings to swap bodies with a servant girl. Cut to the SoCal present, where Clive is robbing a gas station. Jessica and her friends pull up, she mistakes him for the attendant, she tortures him with the car horn and then she accidentally drops one of the earrings, which she has just stolen from an African artifact shop. Clive goes home to his slum pad, dons the accessory, and in the morning the petulant teen wakes up with his body, including the penis, which sparks roughly a bazillion gags about how funny it is to have a penis. To counterbalance, there is exactly one fizzling gag about having to use tampons, but who knows -- maybe first-time director Tom Brady (who co-scripted both this and The Animal with Schneider) is saving that laff-riot for the sequel.

To be fair, there are two good things about Rob Schneider's comedies. The first is that they're short. And come to think of it . . . make that one good thing. Nah, just kidding. The second is that -- no matter how stupid they are (that'd be very) -- they're useful vehicles for transmitting open-minded thinking. In Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (a title approximately as intelligent as Dame Martina: Female Ballerina), the zany little urchin played unabashedly with sexual hang-ups of many stripes. Ditto The Animal, adding giggles about reverse racism and nutritional-supplement hucksters. Here, as "Taquito," the "gardener" who counsels Jessica's parents (Michael O'Keefe and Leila Kenzle), he riffs again on race, as well as emotional estrangement, stymied sexuality and unhappy, cross-dressing children. It's only unfortunate that he feels compelled to include his naked buttocks in the deal again.

There's one really big laugh in The Hot Chick when one of the teens accuses Schneider of being 30, but otherwise it's a routine ride. In addition to the copious urine humor, there's plenty of material in which Jessica (in Clive's body) tries to convince her best friend, April (Anna Faris, soon to appear in May), and her boyfriend, Billy (Matthew Lawrence), that it's really her! This equates to Schneider aping the most insufferable aspects of ignorant teendom -- and admittedly he's got a way with the gestures and 'tude -- but often his apparent loathing of "girl-isms" overshadows the humor. It's less a hoot than it is a public therapy session.

Technically, the movie's just average SNL-alum fare (complete with Sandler lazily reprising his role as "Weed Guy"). Brady and editor Peck Prior don't have much of a handle on timing, so a great many jokes hang interminably on the screen (especially the spectacularly unfunny blooper reel alongside the end credits). There's plenty of broad humor, countless songs by bands that all sound alike and an obvious gay bartender joke that takes the entire movie to pay off. One really hopes that the general public is smarter than this stuff. It just plays like an inside joke for people with nothing inside.

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Gregory Weinkauf
Contact: Gregory Weinkauf