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"THE HOT CHICK"
(2002) (Rob Schneider, Rachel McAdams) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A popular teenager has her world upended when an ancient curse causes her to switch bodies with an unattractive and much older male thief.
PLOT:
Jessica Spencer (RACHEL McADAMS) is one of the most popular girls in high school. Not only is she the head cheerleader, but she also has a faithful and loving boyfriend in Billy (MATTHEW LAWRENCE) as well as what seems like a strong family unit consisting of mom, Carol (MELORA HARDIN), dad, Richie (MICHAEL O'KEEFE) and younger brother, Booger (MATT WEINBERG).

Yet, Jessica isn't the nicest person in the world and it isn't above her to make fun of fellow classmates Hildenburg (MEGAN KUHLMANN) and Eden (SAMIA DOUMIT). Accordingly, but by accident, she gets her comeuppance when an ancient spell causes her to unknowingly switch bodies with Clive Maxtone (ROB SCHNEIDER), a grubby 30-year-old criminal.

Panicking, she goes to her best friend, April (ANNA FARIS), for help, but April freaks out upon seeing the disgusting older man. After a bit of convincing, April and their friends Lulu (ALEXANDRA HOLDEN) and Keecia, a.k.a. Ling-Ling (MARITZA MURRAY), try to figure out what to do regarding this unusual predicament, while Clive, now looking like Jessica, does the same.

Meanwhile, Jessica also tries to make herself look better as a woman inside a man's body, which eventually attracts April's romantic attention despite having a boyfriend, Jake (ERIC CHRISTIAN OLSEN). That causes her mom, Julie (LEILA KENZLE) to worry about her, much to the chagrin of her father Stan (ROBERT DAVI)

At the same time, Jessica - looking like Clive - ends up being mistaken by Jessica's dad as the new gardener, and then later gets a job as a janitor working for Vice Principal Bernard (LEE GARLINGTON). With time running out before prom and the big cheerleading competition, Jessica and her friends try to figure out if rival Bianca (MARIA-ELENA LAAS) or someone else is responsible and how to reverse the switch.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
From "The Parent Trap" to "Big" and "All of Me," the ancient mistaken identity plot has made its way into movies in a variety of forms. Some are simply identity gaffes, while others involve some sort of sci-fi type switcheroo where identities actually switch bodies.

In the latter, the comedy is supposed to stem from the clash between ages and character traits. Occasionally it also involves the sexes such as was the case with "Prelude to a Kiss." "The Hot Chick" is the latest gender bender that contains a woman in a man's body and vice-versa. Unfortunately, it's probably the worst such film ever made.

As written by star Rob Schneider (who wrote his films "The Animal" and "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo") and Tom Brady (who co-wrote "The Animal" and directs for the first time here), the film is a collection of obvious, crude and lowest common denominator "humor" that isn't remotely funny unless, that is, you're about 13-years-old and still unsure of girls.

While the filmmakers could have gone in a variety of directions in setting up the premise - as far as the ages, appearances and lifestyles of those to be switched - they chose the standard popular but catty high school cheerleader and a grubby small-time crook.

The moment young Jessica -- Rachel McAdams ("Perfect Pie," "My Name is Tanino") - wakes up to find herself looking like Rob Schneider and vice-versa is obviously loaded with comedic potential. Yet, the filmmakers decided to settle on various forms of lowbrow material that show scant imagination or creativity other than remembering what little it takes to make young teenage boys laugh.

Accordingly, there's all of the requisite body-based humor of her having to deal with his foreign and gross body, including the predictable bathroom material (they even steal and modify a urination scene from "Me, Myself and Irene" with less amusing results). Considering this is a Schneider film - that's produced by Adam Sandler who occasionally appears as a dreadlocked druggie with a penchant for banging on drums and always chatting about where one hides the "weed" - none of that should come as a surprise.

That said, the material - including a great deal regarding the male member as well as jokes that play off the expected gay and lesbian humor that arises from the premise - will only be funny to those who enjoy Schneider and Sandler's "normal" comedic offerings.

Then there's the related but predictable mistaken identity bits, such as Jessica's unhappy mother and cute friend both being smitten with and trying to kiss Clive with the former not realizing it's really Jessica in that body. While there's also potential there and throughout much of the film, little if any of it's remotely funny, even on the low level to which the filmmakers are aspiring (or is that sinking?).

For reasons known only to them, they also shortchange the other half of the film, namely seeing Clive trapped inside a woman's body. Beyond a brief tampon joke and more bathroom humor, little is seen of her/him until late in the film.

More problems exist as related to logic or, more accurately, the lack thereof. For some reason, once Jessica finds herself trapped in Clive's body she becomes a better person. It's not because she believes she was bad and this is her punishment or because of anything she learns along the way. Rather, it's just an instant makeover that doesn't make any sense. Nor does having two different women - one young, the other middle-aged - falling for Schneider's character based on appearance. I'm no Adonis, but c'mon, that isn't anything beyond stroking the star's ego.

As far as the performances are concerned, they're about on par with what's to be expected from something like this. With a more gifted actor, the role of Jessica in a guy's body could have been hilarious (including seeing him in panties, etc.), but Schneider is such a limited performer that none of his antics work.

McAdams has a bit more fun playing the guy in the woman, but even that's rather limited in laughs. Anna Faris (the "Scary Movie" films) tries but can't do much as the best friend who falls for the guy who's really a woman. The likes of Matthew Lawrence ("Mrs. Doubtfire," "Cheaters"), Eric Christian Olsen ("Not Another Teen Movie," "Pearl Harbor"), Megan Kuhlmann (making her debut) and Michael O'Keefe ("The Glass House," "The Pledge") are also either limited by their characters as written and/or simply come off bad playing them.

Filled with running gags that are far more offensive than funny - including all of the gay jokes and the sight of a woman doing the standard shrill Korean mother bit - and nary a sight of any sort of intelligent creativity, the film is a disaster from start to finish.

To make matters worse, the outtakes during the closing credits - which usually at least have a few funny moments showing cast members goofing or cutting up - are one hundred percent laugh free and are nearly as painful to watch as the movie that precedes them. Only for diehard fans of Schneider's work - and even that's asking some from them - the movie is one of the worst of the year and rates as just a 1 out of 10.




Reviewed December 6, 2002 / Posted December 13, 2002


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