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Touchstone Home Video presents
April: You see Jess, because you are so beautiful and perfect, certain people might misconstrue some of the mean and hurtful things you say and do to them. Although the things you say are funny... people tend to focus more on their own public humiliation and shame.
DVD ReviewRob Schneider is probably never going to be as big a box-office draw as Adam Sandler—he doesn't have Sandler's manic intensity—but he seems perfectly content to take up the mantle of "odd-looking oaf in high-concept, gross-out comedy" while his mentor is off making smarter fare like Punch-Drunk Love and Anger Management.
After three films, the Rob Schneider movie is almost its own genre. The mold was formed with 1999's popular Duce Bigelow: Male Gigolo. It was most certainly not broken with 2001's The Animal. The Hot Chick is more of the same as well, carrying over the basic premise of something whacky happening to Rob that forces him to rethink his perspective on life and mug wildly in reaction to falling over and getting kicked in the crotch. Tom Brady, who wrote The Animal, here takes over the directing reins as well, for what proves to be the best starring role of Schneider's career, and all that that implies.
The Hot Chick is a throwback to the body-switching comedies of the 1970s and '80s. Perky and popular Jessica (Rachel McAdams) enjoys cheerleading, her boyfriend (Matthew Lawrence), and making fun of those she deems not good enough to be her friends (pretty much everybody). The Karma Police comes calling when she puts on a magic earring that causes her to switch bodies with a beer-swilling petty criminal (Schneider). Now in a man's body, Jessica must realize that it is harder to get people to like you if you aren't pretty, and that men can't get very far on sex appeal alone (at least when they look like Rob Schneider).
Brady and Schneider worked together on the script, which is a mish-mash of broad physical humor (Rob falls down steps), gross-out gags (guys are hairy!), and some mild gender relations satire. The core of the story is Jessica's changing character, and the fact that her ordeal makes her a better person. The problem is, the heavy-handed moralizing isn't particularly well done, and it detracts from what little comedy there is that actually works. It's hard to balance a saccharine story with insightful humor and slapstick (Big did a good job of it, one which The Hot Chick is desperately trying to emulate), and this script is only marginally successful.
There are some bright spots, however. It's a movie full of stupid humor, but not one that is entirely stupid. I liked the scene where Jessica-as-Rob had to endure a "just one of the boys" chat with her father about her parents' sex life. I thought it was probably sadly realistic that the first thing Jessica's friends want to know when they discover their friend is now a male is what her penis looks like, and the first thing that a moron like Clive would do after waking up in a woman's body is become a stripper. The self-aware gags, such as when Jessica's parents absentmindedly comment that they haven't seen their daughter for a few days, aren't laugh-out-loud funny, but they do recall the referential humor of The Simpsons, for which Tom Brady was a writer.
The real highlight is, surprisingly, Rob Schneider himself. His portrayal of a snotty 17-year-old girl in a man's body is surprisingly convincing, even if he does rely mostly on broad gestures and stereotypes. I've never particularly liked his style of comedy. That I could accept him in the role, and even find him funny and slightly endearing, truly means that this must be the best, least "Rob Schneider movie" of the three Rob Schneider films. Which is probably why it seems to be the least popular with his fans.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: The Hot Chick is a brightly lit, colorful film, and it looks really nice on DVD. Hues are solid and show no color bleed. Blacks are nice and deep, and shadow detail is very good (as is detail overall). The source print looks to be in excellent condition, showing little grain and no scratches or blemishes. The only negative is a bit of edge enhancement visible throughout, but it isn't that bad, and in most scenes you have to really look to see it.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: This isn't a bad soundtrack for a comedy, but it doesn't impress, either. The surrounds contribute atmospheric effects, supplement the score at times, and occasionally feature some back to front panning, but for the most part, they are curiously silent throughout. The front soundstage sounds pretty good, with clear dialogue anchored in the center channel and nice directionality in the front mains, but it's the type of mix that had me constantly reaching for the remote, as the pop songs on the soundtrack are mixed at a much higher level than the dialogue.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Shanghai Knights
14 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Tom Brady
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Tom Brady gets things started with a director's commentary. He's a likeable guy, and he speaks enthusiastically about the movie and the support he had making it, but it is a little hard to swallow the two hours of gushing over Schneider and talking about how hard it was to get a particular joke "just right." Brady is too serious to be talking about such an inconsequential comedy, and a lighter tone would've been more entertaining.
No less than 14 deleted scenes are presented in fairly decent, widescreen quality. There are a few subplots here that were trimmed entirely, and while they would've dragged down the feature (already sluggish at just 15 minutes shy of two hours), and fans will appreciate seeing them here. I assume, anyway, as I'm not a fan. There's also a nonsensical alternate ending that I assume was shot as a joke.
Five featurettes are collected in The Hot Chick Yearbook. All five are a cut above the usual making-of material for a film like this—they are well edited, they feature very little in the way of talking heads, and they are made up mostly on candid on-set footage. The first, Becoming Jessica (8:43) highlights all the work Schneider put into getting his performance as a teenage girl just stereotypical enough to be wholly convincing. Becoming Clive (5:49) offers the opposite perspective on actress Rachel McAdams. The Hot Chicks (8:28) focuses on the supporting cast of "hot chicks" and their extensive work ripping off Bring It On. I mean, choreographing the cheerleading scenes.
Guest Speakers (10:55) is all about the guest spots in the film from actors like Adam Sandler, Robert Davi, and Angie Stone. Physical Education (9:06) reveals all the work that goes into the scenes with slapstick humor. But why do I keep rewinding and rewatching the section where Schneider gets nailed in the goodies over and over and over? And why do I find it so satisfying? Odd.
There is an option to register your DVD, provided you are willing to admit you actually bought it. The music video for Zed's Starlight closes out the disc. It's a nice enough video that does a takeoff on the plot of the movie, and with all of the cross-dressing and body switching, I spent most of the song trying to figure out if a particular extra was male or female. The verdict? Undecided.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsI'd never expect much from a movie called The Hot Chick, let alone one that starred Rob Schneider. In that respect, it's a success—I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would. Like most entries in the gross-out/teen genre these days, it has a few good laughs surrounded by a lot of mediocre pratfalls and sight gags, topped off with some trite character growth that is supposed to give the move "heart," but instead stops it cold. Not bad for a summer rental, though, and the DVD has some nice supplements.
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