Tom Putnam and Heidi Ferrer's gross-out romantic comedy, a vehicle for the persona of vapid celebutante Paris Hilton, is preposterous, disingenuous, remarkably unfunny and genuinely distasteful.
Unemployed, commitment-phobic slacker Nate Cooper (Joel David Moore) has just been dumped by his girlfriend Jane (Kathryn Fiore), who's had enough of his self-pitying ballads, lack of ambition and utter unwillingness to grow up. Plunged into an even deeper funk than usual, Nate decides to find out whatever happened to Christabelle Abbott, the little princess he loved in first grade. This requires a cross-country car trip to visit fellow loser Arno Blount (Greg Wilson), who still lives at home with his mom in Los Angeles and has kept track of Christabel (Hilton), for 20 years. She's now a party planner, hotter than ever and unattached, but also still best-friends-forever with grade-school troll June Phigg (Christine Lakin), who's matured into a snaggle-toothed zookeeper with thinning locks, volcanic acne, a moustache, sasquatch-like body hair and a wart the size of a grape. Nate arranges to "accidentally" bump into Christabel on the beach, only to discover that in an effort to improve herself Christabel, the once promiscuous has sworn off dating until June, a lonely virgin, has "someone special in her life." If Nate wants Christobel, who shows a thoroughly improbable interest in this scrawny, immature, dishonest jerk from her past, he'll have to find someone brave enough to date June.
For all the slapstick gags involving infected toenails, mucus, tooth decay and stinky feet, Ferrer's screenplay styles itself a fable about the beauty within, and as June undergoes a gradual transition from nottie to middle-tier hottie, her wit, common sense and lively personality emerge as well. Which isn't really the point of inner beauty, but since June is initially made up as a grotesque gargoyle, it's understandable enough. Hilton is Hilton — smirking, squinty-eyed, thoroughly without charisma, and saying things like, "Our bodies are earth suits, vessels to help us pass from this planet to the next," so we understand that Christabel really is a deep and spiritual person, all evidence to the contrary. The Farrelly brothers' THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) is the model for all films like this, but their deft mix of gross, genuinely-funny gags and convincing romance are a tough act to follow. When the balance is as far off the mark as it is here, the result is one grim fairy tale. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh