Let’s face it, no one is expecting a film starring Paris Hilton to be good, and The Hottie and the Nottie is definitely not “hot.” On premise alone, the film has that straight-to-DVD flavor and Paris’ robotic performance does nothing to improve the vibe. Yet somehow, despite the ridiculously contrived plot, horrible acting, and gag-worthy humor the movie is still hysterical in that train wreck sort of way that earned “Flavor of Love” a third season and a spin off.
The film operates under the premise that “The hotness of one girl is directly proportional to the ugliness of her best friend.” Thus when picture-perfect six-year-old Cristabel Abbott moves to Los Angeles, she immediately befriends June Phigg, a sweet but awkward young girl with bloody nose issues and a horrendous mole. Meanwhile, little Nate Cooper can’t work up the courage to confess his love to Cristabel before moving to the East Coast, and twenty years later, he’s still fantasizing about the girl that got away. After his latest relationship with a manic-depressive goes awry, Nate (Joel Moore) decides that Cristabel was his one true love and relocates to California to find her (right). There he reunites with his dorky best friend Arno (Greg Wilson) who still lives with his mother and therefore has nothing better to do than to compile an extensive dossier on Cristabel’s daily activities.
Nate not-so-casually bumps into Cristabel (Paris Hilton) along Venice Beach to find that she’s still single and gorgeous with an entourage of suitors. Unfortunately, she’s also still best friends with June (Christine Lakin) a.k.a. “The Nottie,” and Cristabel refuses to consider Nate as a potential lover until she finds someone for June. Nate makes it his mission to find June a man, but with a receding hairline, blackened teeth, skin infections and of course, her signature hairy mole, June isn’t exactly America’s Next Top Model. As Nate lines up potential dates, he encourages June to get a makeover, slowly bringing out her outer beauty until he realizes the “Nottie” is not at all what he thought.
Not that realism is expected in a Paris Hilton flick, but this film walks the line even for a ridiculous comedy. I had an easier time believing Rob Schneider as a woman in The Hot Chick than I did buying June Phigg’s hideousness. Primarily the issue is that she suffers from so many easily treatable problems and yet it never occurs to her to tend to them until Nate offers her a makeover. The film might have had a moral center if they had just cast a normal looking girl, in fact, that film might have been an endearing romantic comedy like The Truth about Cats and Dogs, but instead, the theme here is no one will love you unless you are beautiful – hardly the stuff dreams are made of. Meanwhile, the movie feels more like a commercial for Paris Hilton’s hotness than an actual film. Too many scenes do the awkward slomo to show off her body and flowing hair extensions, although I can hardly blame them for avoiding dialogue, as Paris’ acting capabilities are limited. Her ideal role would be a fem-bot where all she has to do is look pretty and utter a few lines in her dollish voice – either way, she shouldn’t quit her day job…whatever that may be.
Despite some horrendous gross-out humor moments (the scene where June’s toenail lands in her date’s mouth actually made me want to vomit), the film does have some redeeming qualities. Joel Moore and Christine Lakin have some surprisingly believable on-screen chemistry and Johann Urb shines as the too-good-to-be-true dentist/philanthropist/extraordinaire who shows genuine interest in June. The film isn’t without some moments of humor (unintentional or otherwise) but ultimately never aspires to be anything more than stark competition for American Pie 4-6.
While The Hottie and the Nottie may indeed reset the bar for cinematic awfulness and certainly has Razzies in the bag for Worst Actress, Title, Film, and Premise, sometimes a film is so bad it’s good. This is one of those times. Head to the theaters with a good buzz, a mega tub of popcorn and a big group of friends, and just laugh your asses off at the travesty that has become an industry which, even before the writer’s strike, couldn’t produce anything better than a B-level Paris Hilton movie.