Paris Hilton has already ushered a remarkable three features into the Internet Movie Database’s “Bottom 100.” “The Hottie and the Nottie” will make it an even four, being so unfunny that the previously unthinkable sentiment “She deserves better” comes to mind. A certain disappointment sets in when the consummate awfulness subsides after an hour, becoming slightly less painful. But then, dropping a hammer on your foot improves that way, too. Biz will be hot … not.
Why this low-budgeter (on which Hilton is credited as an exec producer) dared bypass the direct-to-DVD fate of star’s priors is a mystery. Even “The Hillz,” “Bottoms Up” and “National Lampoon’s Pledge This!” were more bigscreen-scaled than “Hottie,” which seems to have been shot with home viewing in mind. In any case, the moviegoing public seldom lays down hard cash to see a pop-culture celebrity it’s already been overexposed to for free: Ask Liberace (“Sincerely Yours”), Luciano Pavarotti (“Yes, Giorgio!”), Vanilla Ice (“Cool as Ice”), Evel Knievel (“Viva Knievel!”) and Madonna (everything).
Yet Paris is far from the wrongest thing about a movie offensively crude in concept and doubly so in execution. Nate (Joel David Moore) has been in love with princessy-perfect Cristabel (Hilton) since first grade. Twenty years later, having just been dumped by a very angry girlfriend (Kathryn Fiore), he realizes he’s never gotten over that first crush.
Nate tracks down Cristabel in Santa Monica with the help of fellow childhood pal Arno (played by comedian Greg Wilson, reviving that unlamented ’80s comedy tradition of imitation Belushis as sidekick). The good news: She is still hot, sweet and single.
The bad: Then, as now, her best friend is June (Christine Lakin). Balding yet hairy in the wrong places, with feral teeth, warts, sores and actual horse whinnies greeting each appearance, June is destined for old-maidhood. Unfortunately for Nate, loyal Cristabel has vowed chastity until her roommate has a fella of her own.
Eyes on the prize, Nate sets to fixing June up, even if he has to pay someone (Adam Kulbersh). But then Johann (model-turned-thesp Johann Urb) turns up, seemingly earnest in his desire to improve June’s lot via dental surgery and such.
Once it stops being incessantly crass and obnoxious, “Hottie” isn’t so bad — not world-class bad, anyway. Lakin (who tries to give a real performance in a degrading role) and Moore actually have a couple charming scenes together. But such praise should be heard very faintly indeed.
But where Hilton is concerned, sheer desire to be photographed doesn’t equal the actual presence and training needed to hold the camera. She’s laughable preening in frequent slow-mo “Look, I’m sexy!” sequences, ghastly when tiny thespian effort is asked of her in a drunk scene. Elsewhere, when allowed to behave naturally, she doesn’t embarrass herself, unlike the real actors expected to be funny with tragic material. (Confident Urb also escapes humiliation.)
It would be easy to blame Heidi Ferrer’s script. But since thesps sometimes appear to be floundering improvisationally, it’s not always clear there is a script.
It should be noted director Tom Putnam’s last project was PBS’ acclaimed WWII documentary “Red White Black & Blue.” Perhaps, like an insurance claim, “Hottie” should simply be labeled no-fault for the future benefit of all involved.
Tech and design aspects are mostly subpar.