Last month, out of a deep, fervent love for all things Jason Mewes, I rented the direct-to-video comedy, "Bottoms Up." It didn't come as a paralyzing shock that the picture was atrocious, but what struck me wasn't the script's lack of wit or the director's incompetence. What hurt the most was Paris Hilton single-handedly defacing the art of acting.
"Pledge This!" comes to the DTV market after two years on the shelf, and, much like "Bottom's Up," there's a good reason nobody would touch it outside of National Lampoon. The title is aimed solely at horny pre-teens who couldn't care less about filmmaking; they're only here for the free peeks at boobs and Paris in her underwear. On those requirements alone, "Pledge This!" does just fine.
The thinly-drawn story concerns a group of ugly girls looking to pledge, and eventually subvert, the hot girl sorority run by Victoria English (Paris Hilton). Narrative is the least of this picture's concerns, but it should be noted that the most hilarious portion of the production is a subplot that has colleges vying for the "FHM Hottest Sorority" award, making this DVD perfectly timed to last week's announcement that FHM is going out of business. Of course, the smut mag's ties to this film were not the cause of the closing, but after watching the horrors of "Pledge," it's not hard to fantasize that their association with this film was a healthy portion of the problems that plagued the publication.
"Pledge" is a simple serving of dumb comedy, hitting up all the highlights of the "American Pie" brand name and other gross-out comedies ("Van Wilder" is also a strong influence) to construct something loose and breezy to hang some nudity on. Director William Heins doesn't have much of a sense of humor, and bundles the film with familiar, and awfully tired, gags that cover all the bases in base comedy.
We have canine humping and canine-to-man oral sex, bathroom feces fountains, a used condom treasure hunt, and an ejaculate joke. To slap home his incompetence, Heins instructs some of the bits to be augmented by cartoon sound effects. To balance the crud out, there's a Whitman's Sampler of D-list cameos (Carmen Electra, Sofia Vergara, Lin Shaye, Taylor Negron), and two comedians of small renown (Kerri Kenney and Geoffrey Arend) who treat "Pledge" like their own personal comedy audition tape. Arend especially goes over the top to prove he's funnier than the material. I'll call it a tie.
As the lead, Paris Hilton sort of glides through the film without providing much effort. Paris is bad actress, but she's not here to lend the picture a Hepburnesque quality. All she's contractually obligated to do is stand around in top clothing, mumble "That's Hot," and occasionally shimmy out of her top clothing. There's supposed to be a constant narration over the film from Victoria's POV, but it doesn't sound like Paris, leading me to believe her involvement with this junk was even less than minimal.
"Pledge This!" is given a 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix. There's heavy soundtrack pronunciation on the track, occasionally stepping on dialogue and general shenanigans. In the case of this film, perhaps the lack of scripted clarity is a praiseworthy idea.
Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), "Pledge" suffers from a brightness problem that extends far beyond the Floridian setting. The image often appears blown out, with colors and textures lost in the glow. Normally, I really enjoy brightly-lit films, but with a production design drunk on South Beach colors and sunshine, visually "Pledge" can become garish and unpleasant to watch.
In the screener I was provided, nothing was included. Color me shocked if the final release has anyone involved with the production stepping up to defend the film.
"Pledge" opens with Blondie's "Dreaming" and ends with a cake fight, so maybe there's some joy to be had here. It's insignificant entertainment, especially found in the "Naughty Version," where the soft-core sex scenes run on for what feels like an eternity. "Pledge This!" lives up to the typical DTV quality standards, pinched ever more slightly by Paris Hilton's reliance on her toxic personage to lend the film some personality. Still, the film has boobs. Loads of them. The target demo is not going care about anything else.
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