THE HOT CHICK

PG-13
Reviews

Obviously enough people thought that the idea of former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Animal) magically transformed (with body intact) into a peppy, perky, popular, pretty high-school cheerleader (female, of course) would make a funny picture. It doesn't. The Christmas season is known for its miracles and that's just what The Hot Chick will need to have any staying power at the box office.

This lame comedy, a directorial debut for Schneider writing partner Tom Brady, kicks off with a prologue set in 50 A.D. Abyssinia, where a pair of earrings turns magical. Cut to the present to incompetent petty crook Clive (Rob Schneider), who, while escaping a gas station after a robbery, ends up with an earring that popular high-school cheerleader Jessica (Rachel McAdams), who has pulled into the station, earlier pinched from the mall's African arts-and-crafts shop. (Adam Sandler does his cameo turn here as the store's stoned, dreadlocked, drum-playing clerk.)

As a result of the earring incident that is about as farfetched as these kinds of forced plot gimmicks can get, Jessica assumes Clive's hoodlum personality and the crook's body becomes home to Jessica. The film stays with Jessica in Clive's body, as Jessica confronts her maleness with horror and struggles to get out of her predicament. Being a normal teen, she also has familiar teen issues to deal with, including the upcoming cheerleader contest and, most acutely, boyfriend problems.

Jessica and best friend April (Anna Faris), who becomes her trusted confidante upon discovering her dilemma, bond tightly, especially because the guys in their lives are misbehaving. Jessica's beau Billy (Matthew Lawrence) is putting the pressure on her to go all the way and April's Jake has a roving eye. It will surprise no one that the main characters ultimately find their rightful bodies and mates and some new values, with the key events taking place in bathrooms, gyms and strip joints.

The Hot Chick also tosses in some domestic complications involving Jessica's bratty brother Booger (Matt Weinberg) and her romantically challenged parents (Melora Hardin and Michael O'Keefe). For the record and as the genre requires, the film abounds in the requisite toilet, fart, penis, vomit, gay and fat jokes (verbal and visual).

There are a few pluses: Schneider as Jessica does use his flirtatious blue eyes to the utmost, and his wiggle does suggest feminine sass. Multi-cultural, racially diverse and occasionally funny, the film does have a jaunty, feel-good rhythm to it and the young actors are more than up to their roles. But, even for its genre and the possibility of a counterprogramming miracle, it looms a wobbly entry. Like the season's Christmas wrappings, The Hot Chick will be short-lived after the opening.

--Doris Toumarkine