In this piquantly titled variant on the All About Eve formula, popular Splendora, Texas high-school queen Starla Grady (Jane McGregor) welcomes her town's first foreign-exchange student, Genevieve LePlouff (Piper Perabo), all the way from France. Starla's motives aren't entirely altruistic, however, as she hopes this gesture will keep her from getting kicked off the cheerleading squad for tanking French grades. Her plan backfires when the initially mousy Genevieve begins to take over her popularity, her quarterback boyfriend (Matt Czuchry), even her place as head cheerleader and aspiring Miss Splendora Beef pageant queen! Thanks to Genevieve's conniving, Starla finds herself in jail for drugs and attempted murder, and, worst of all, bereft of makeup or hair conditioner!

Emmy-winning actress Melanie Mayron ("thirtysomething") directed Slap Her…She's French, fashioning a droll, bitchy frolic which pokes fun at the price of popularity and small-town pretension in the Lone Star State. She's aided by a cast of avid farceurs, all having a field day with the satirical script by Lamar Damon and Robert Lee King. McGregor is a Barbie come to life, with the eensy-teensy features favored by all pageant judges, and becomes ever funnier as her perfect life collapses. Yet it is Perabo who steals the show, comically out-waifing even early Kate Moss with her impossibly tragic story of being orphaned since childhood and watching her boyfriend crash to his doom into the Seine. The reaction the scripters come up with to this hard-luck saga matches Thelma Ritter's classic All About Eve retort, "Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end!" "That is so Titanic!" exclaims Starla's girlfriend, who is haughtily corrected by another one, even more clueless ("Titanic was a movie, hello!"), who in turn must be reminded of the actuality of that event. Perabo hilariously revels in Genevieve's bespectacled nerdiness and obsequious behavior, and then has the entire town drop-jawed at a football game with her sexy writhing in a miniskirt to "Bust a Move." Czuchry is amusingly doltish, and Trent Ford, as the "sensitive," alternate romantic interest has his non-threatening-boy moments. Brandon Smith and Julie White get laughs as Starla's all-too-enabling parents, especially the booze-swilling White who, during an Asian girl's classical-music entry in the pageant's talent portion, mutters, "I don't like this Japanese music." "It's Mozart," corrects little Jesse James who, as Starla's precocious younger brother, constantly reminds her that, in full beauty-queen regalia, she merely looks like a drag queen.

-David Noh