For years National Lampoon was a name associated with brilliant, if not somewhat lowbrow comedies. Animal House and the Vacation franchise are all classic comedies that will forever have a place in film history. More recent movies with the “National Lampoon” label have been less successful, with only Van Wilder really earning any kind of following. Sadly, the Paris Hilton produced (and starring) picture Pledge This! actually provides a new low water mark for the label.
Let’s be frank. Remove Paris Hilton’s successful TV series “The Simple Life” and her most popular media accomplishment has been her homemade porn movie One Night In Paris. How appropriate that should be her claim to fame, since Pledge This! is one step shy of being a porn at just about every turn.
The story is common “National Lampoon” fare – a sorority queen rules supreme over the campus of South Beach University. She criticizes what everyone wears and does, proclaiming what is “hot” or “not hot.” The new school year brings a new bunch of freshmen, looking for a new sorority to call home, which gives the queen the opportunity to conduct all sorts of humiliating hazing. Eventually the freshmen get tired of the treatment they are getting and decide to teach the sorority bitches a little bit about respect and dignity.
All the usual types appear in the story, from the brainy babe to the sleezy guy who’s trying to get a piece of freshman ass. In fact, the only original archetypes to come to the movie is Paris Hilton, who isn’t playing a character; she’s just being herself, down to her trademark catchphrase. This isn’t a role for Hilton. It’s just another chance, like “The Simple Life” for Paris to show how vapid and materialistic she is.
The dialogue is badly written and delivered, giving the movie the feeling of being just on the verge of breaking into a porno film at any given moment. Along the way the movie tries to take advantage of the picture’s unrated status to show off boobs and have a few girls make out with each other, but nothing hardcore is shown, with most nudity only being on screen for a couple of seconds. None of the story’s main characters are involved in the intercourse either, so those hoping for a sequel to One Night In Paris will be disappointed.
I don’t know what I was expecting from a Paris Hilton movie, but sadly I think I got it. Pledge This! is a shallow, empty tale that deserves its direct to home video status. It may be good for one or two viewings (preferably under the influence) before getting tossed onto the bonfire that will hopefully come with the end of Hilton’s reign of popularity. Until then, this is a perfect representation of how meaningless her contributions to popular culture are. To use Hilton’s own words, this picture is “not hot.”
National Lampoon’s Pledge This! is being released straight to DVD without a theatrical run. Despite that, the movie is getting two separate DVD releases: a standard, rated-R release and a “Naughty” unrated edition. I fail to see the point in this release strategy. After all, it’s not like anyone is attached to the rated-R version of the film and without the contents that make the unrated edition “naughty” there really is nothing worth watching in these movies. Studios need to get rid of the idea of rated and unrated editions of movies that are being released straight to video and just put out one version. It’s already proven it’s not worth having a theatrical run, so what makes it worth two editions?
The only bonus materials are trailers for two more upcoming National Lampoon projects and a brief “making of” featurette, which shows almost as much material from the movie as it shows behind the scenes. The cast cheers on director William Heins who allows them to deviate from the script, meaning writer Cheryl Guerriano can’t be held completely responsible for this travesty. They also share their thoughts on how well they expect the movie to do, placing it on par with other college flicks like Revenge of the Nerds. They prove my earlier statement about what the label National Lampoon used to mean, because they think that is enough to prove how good the movie is. I would guess several of them had a rude awakening when they discovered their mighty college farce was going straight to video.
Although I usually like more bonus materials on my DVDs, I was thankful there wasn’t a commentary track attached to the film. It was painful enough to sit through this movie once. I would hate to have to sit through it a second time and listen to Paris declare things as hot or not hot or hear the director sing the praises of his mediocre cast. It’s much better to not have to think about Pledge This! much at all – that’s the kind of pledge I can stand behind.