The Hot Chick

Movie Information

Score:

Genre: Comedy
Director: Tom Brady
Starring: Rob Schneider, Rachel Mcadams, Anna Faris, Matthew Lawrence, Adam Sandler
Rated: PG-13

What’s the most positive thing that can be said about the new Rob Schneider vehicle? Well, it’s not as pathetic as The Animal. (Now there’s a breakout quote for a newspaper ad if ever I saw one!)

Once again, we have a movie that exists mostly because Adam Sandler likes Rob Schneider and apparently thinks he’s funny. The desperation with which Sandler continues to try to foist Schneider on the rest of the world is appallingly obvious this round. Not only does Sandler give himself a small role in the film (he only had a brief cameo in The Animal), but he’s ensured that a clip of one of his scenes made it into the trailer to goose interest in The Hot Chick. In one sense, that’s fair, since Sandler’s turn as a marijuana-obsessed wannabe Jamaican is the funniest thing in the picture, even if it plays like a Saturday Night Live skit; but, hey, it’s only a couple of scenes painfully grafted onto the film. (Screenwriters Schneider and Tom Brady missed a good chance to make Sandler’s character a part of the fabric of the movie, but then they missed so many things that this is understandable.)

The movie’s premise is so old that there’s moss growing on it: Small-time crook Clive (Schneider) and Jessica (Rachel McAdams), the Hot Chick of the title, switch bodies thanks to some magical earrings. In other words, think Big or Vice Versa with penis jokes — or simply think Blake Edwards’ Switch, Goodbye, Charlie or even 1940′s Turnabout, revamped for maximum adolescent crudity. There are so many things wrong and wrong-headed about The Hot Chick that it’s hard to know where to start, but they all come back to Rob Schneider.

First of all, there’s the problem of Schneider’s character, Clive, who is Schneider at his most self-absorbed and least funny. We meet Clive in the process of a gas-station robbery. Clive isn’t a very good thief, nor is he a very bright one, but it doesn’t matter because he has no actual character. He exists solely to get the plot under way and to treat us to Schneider filling his swag bag with nachos and cheese sauce, eating cheese sauce straight out of the pump and drinking a Slushie by putting his mouth under the spout. This is supposed to be riotously funny, and I suppose it might be if you’re convinced that anything Schneider does is hilarious. Personally, I found it embarrassingly unfunny and reminiscent of Jerry Lewis at his narcissistic worst, stopping a movie’s narrative flow dead in its tracks just to show off.

When Clive awakens in Jessica’s body, it doesn’t get any better; it only changes direction. At least Jessica has a character, but Schneider hasn’t a clue how to play a woman. He merely minces and flounces and adopts a limp wrist like a cheap gay caricature. It doesn’t help that we’ve seen how the real Jessica behaves and it’s nothing like what Schneider gives us. That might be forgivable if it was funny, but it isn’t. Rather than comedically explore the deeper ramifications of such a body change, the film goes straight for jokes so low that you need a minesweeper to find them. How many times is it possible for Jessica/Clive to have to master the art of urination? The film manages to play it out at great length twice. We also have flatulence gags, nose-hair gags and any-other-bodily-function hilarity that came to mind.

Structurally, the movie’s a shambles, but it’s not hard to understand why. Rather than follow the parallel experiences of Clive in Jessica’s body, the film loses her for reels until her presence becomes necessary to wrap up the plot. Considering the fact that Rachel McAdams is far funnier and more adept at coming across as Clive in a woman’s body, it’s reasonable that Schneider would pare her footage to the bare minimum.

In its marginal favor, The Hot Chick raises some interesting questions about the nature of gender and whether we fall in love with a person or with that person’s gender, but it finally cops out in a testament to utter shallowness. Since Jessica’s best friend, April (Anna Faris), falls in love with Jessica in Clive’s body, it would logically follow that she’d still be in love with Jessica in Jessica’s body; but, no, that’s presumably too much for the film’s target audience, so she turns her attention to Clive in his own body. This is actually pretty creepy considering Clive’s non-character; and in the end, the film can’t even hold onto the idea anyway, jettisoning it in favor of a cheesy gag ending.

Interestingly, this is the second film involving Sandler’s participation to present a more-user-friendly gag in its trailer than the one that actually appears in the film. Where the trailer for Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights offered a cleaned-up version of its port-a-john bit, the trailer for The Hot Chick’s gives us a reference to a “camp counselor” to make a pedophile “joke,” while the film itself refers to the pedophile as “Father Mulcahy.”

It’s one thing to push the envelope. It’s another entirely to sail under false colors in order to not offend a potential ticket-buyer.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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