We all know that it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover… but if a DVD comes in a pink plastic case and has a picture of Paris Hilton doing a piss-poor ‘Elle Woods’ impression on the front, I think it’s fair to assume that the movie ain’t gonna win any Oscars. If anything, National Lampoon’s Pledge This! (2006) should come in a hermetically-sealed metal tub, with a “Toxic Waste” warning stamped on the top. Seriously, this movie is bad. And not “so-bad-it’s-sorta-funny”… no, this movie is so bad it will rot your soul (assuming you’re stubborn enough to watch it all the whole way through, I mean). Anyone who tells you they actually enjoyed this weapons-grade garbage is either trolling you, or mentally/spiritual unwell. Either way, the safest option is to shun them. No good can come from associating with that sort. Normally when I watch a bad movie, I like to arrogantly pick it apart (either here, or just in my head) to figure out where the filmmakers went wrong, and what I can learn from their mistakes to become a better writer. In this case though, it would take at least two eternities to sift through all the wrongness, because this movie is wrong on almost every conceivable level. It is a bottomless pit of ineptitude, ignorance and offence. If you were to stare into this abyss, it wouldn’t simply stare back at you, it would vomit. I was staggered to learn that “executive producer” Hilton snubbed the movie’s Cannes premiere on the grounds that the other producers had edited in a load of gratuitous nudity, against her express wishes. It wasn’t the snub itself that staggered me, more the fact that it was motivated by something so innocuous. If she’d had any sense she would have snubbed it at the pre-production stage, when she first read the screenplay and realised it was a moronic piece of shit. I don’t understand why a few bare breasts were the tipping point for her… I mean, it’s not as if she was considered a paragon of virtue and modesty before this movie came out, right?
Now, you may be asking yourself, why a seemingly sane and rational person would subject themselves to such foul torment? Well, as usual, my only excuse is that it was super-cheap, and it has a deceptively great cast list. It actually makes me sad to see so many talented actresses lowering themselves to the level of this material… but not every girl is lucky enough to be born an obscenely wealthy heiress, I guess. I can’t be bothered going into “plot” or “character” details here, because it simply isn’t worth the sweat… so let’s just get on with the laundry list, and see how well I can type while simultaneously shaking my head in despair and disbelief: First up is Paula Garcés, who somehow manages to put in a decent, likeable performance, despite all of the impediments the script places in her path. Ultimately it’s a futile, thankless effort, because her natural talent and charisma are smothered by the sheer awfulness of it all… but you’ve got to give the gal props for trying. Despite appearing in all three Harold and Kumar movies, and booking recurring roles in shows such as Warehouse 13, The Shield, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, I’ll always think of Garcés as the perpetually upbeat (and ever-so-slightly uptight) ‘Paula Morales’ in Defying Gravity. Next up is the super-cute Sarah Carter, who has numerous face-to-face scenes with the movie’s cover star, which give the lie to the ludicrous, oft-repeated claim that Hilton is the most desirable girl on campus. As if! Aside from minor recurring roles in Dirty Sexy Money, Numb3rs and Smallville, Carter also had a starring role in Shark, as rookie prosecutor ‘Madeline Poe’… and let’s not forget her fine work as ‘Helena Douglas’ in DOA: Dead or Alive, deploying devastating kicks and adorable winks with equal aplomb.
Then comes Bianca Lawson, who’s probably best known for playing the short-lived Slayer ‘Kendra Young’ on Buffy… but who’s also had major recurring roles in Dawson’s Creek, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries (where she used witchery to keep the vamps in their place, instead of a stake). She doesn’t get anything as fun as that to do here, though… just rock some braids and “represent”, as the token black girl on screen. Noureen DeWulf scores far more screen-time as the token Indian girl… but since most of that time is spent playing a heavily-accented, “silly foreigner” stereotype, it’s really nothing to brag about. As an example of the quality of “humour” you can expect from this movie, her character’s name is announced as “Senagarvarapoopoogandusimi”, but everyone refers to her as “Poo Poo” instead. Is that racist, or just puerile? I guess it can be both. I wasn’t familiar with DeWulf before this, but I admire the way she manages to be so amusing and endearing here, despite the mire of comedic slops she has to wade through. Bless ‘er. Apparently she’s best known for her work in rom-coms like The Back-Up Plan and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past… but she also has a minor recurring role in Outsourced, and appeared alongside Sarah Chalke and Judy Greer in a miniseries called Maneater. Kerri Kenney-Silver has had starring roles in The State and Reno 911!, as well as minor roles in Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models, and Pushing Daisies… but alongside her acting, she’s also the lead singer (and bass guitarist) of the all-female “indie rock” band Cake Like. I’ve got an album of theirs called Bruiser Queen, and there are a couple of really great tracks on there, that I often find myself singing. Her character here is just an abomination though, so let’s slog on…
Diva Zappa was one of the names that really leapt out at me from the cast list, and I’ll admit I was kinda looking forward to seeing her “lesbian” character engage in a little soft-core lady-kissin’ here… but that scene only lasts about ten seconds, and the rest of her part is just ham-fisted flirtation and an unflattering fringe. Tch. For some reason Carmen Electra gets a credit on the front cover, and a special “also featuring” photo credit on the back of the case (her name is misspelt as “Elektra” both times), despite the fact that she only makes a brief, mostly mute cameo as ‘Herself’ in the third act. It seems like I’ve been seeing a lot of Ms. Electra recently (in Epic Movie, Get Over It and Joey), but I can’t say I’ve warmed to her. Lin Shaye has been in the business a while, and boasts some pretty eclectic entries on her resume… but as far as comedy roles go, she’s probably most recognised for her work with the Farrelly Brothers, in Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. Personally, I like her best as the tyrannical, ticket-tearing mother in Detroit Rock City. Either way, this is most definitely not her finest hour (and twenty six minutes). I don’t have the faintest clue who Elizabeth Daily (aka E. G. Daily) plays in this movie, and I’m certainly not going to sit through it again just to find out… I’d rather highlight her work as the voice-over artist responsible for bringing life to such beloved cartoon characters as ‘Tommy Pickles’ in Rugrats, and ‘Buttercup’ in The Powerpuff Girls. Fun fact: She also had a lead role in Valley Girl, the 80s comedy “inspired by” (i.e., shamelessly cashing in on the success of) Frank and Moon Unit Zappa’s surprise hit single of the same name. Last but not least is Jennifer Elise Cox, who makes a very brief cameo as a preening ‘VJ’ outside the big party… and actually managed to make me laugh, simply by swishing her hair (although that may have been because it reminded me of her turn as ‘Jan Brady’ in The Brady Bunch Movie).
Now, I assume there’ll be some obsessive comedy geeks (like myself) out there, reading this post and thinking “Oh, c’mon, how bad can it really be?”, so I’ll leave y’all with this friendly piece of advice: DO NOT BUY THIS MOVIE. DO NOT RENT THIS MOVIE. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. WHEN THE REVIEWS TELL YOU THAT THIS MOVIE IS WORSE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE, BELIEVE THEM. THEY ARE TRYING TO PROTECT YOU. DO NOT CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT YOU CAN APPRECIATE THIS MOVIE AS A “GUILTY PLEASURE”. THERE IS NO PLEASURE TO BE HAD HERE… THERE IS ONLY PAIN!