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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Simple Life
The Simple Life
Fox // Unrated // January 20, 2004
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 24, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Watchable but disappointing, "The Simple Life" stars rich, spoiled friends Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie as two rich, spoiled friends who are taken out of their posh Los Angeles lifestyle and deposited in a small town in Arkansas to try and experience what life is like there. Their credit cards and cash have been taken away from them and the two must get jobs while living with the Leding family.

If there's one thing I enjoyed about "The Simple Life" is that it didn't make the Leding family look like complete hicks. They are shown as hard-working, kind people who are at first puzzled by their new guests, but still accomidating. It's no wonder that, by the end of the series, the family's father seems to have simply given up on the girls. Irritated sit-down chats quickly evolve into half-hearted protests, as the two girls don't comprehend rules or - moreover - the word "no."

The girls proceed throughout their days in the small town with little respect for anyone around them, get fired from just about every job they try, try and pick up about every guy in town and - in the case of Nicole - eventually become mean-spirited (her "C.A.D." - "charge account disorder" - gets her into trouble when she charges a little shopping spree at the local store to her employer's credit line). When it seems like she's going to get confronted about her act, she goes into a fake tears mode that's so ridiculous that I couldn't help but laugh.

At the end, the girls joyfully discuss how much they've learned in their stay there (in reality, it seems as if the girls have very much worn out their welcome with the townsfolk, especially after an incident with Nicole vs. a pool table), when it's obvious to anyone who's watched merely an episode of the show that they've learned absolutely nothing. The main, overall issue with the show that I have is that it doesn't seem as if they had to. At least with "Simple Life" creators Bunim/Murray's "Real World", when those people didn't do the jobs that they were given, there was some consequence.

If anything, the series seems almost focused on presenting the girls as idiots, spouting off remarks like "What's Wal-Mart? Do they like, sell wall stuff there?" Some moments come complete with a few obviously written lines (Hilton apparently said in an interview the "Wal-Mart" line was scripted) and set-up sequences (such as a bit where the girls' pies get destroyed), as well as some idiotic sound effects (I'm surprised they didn't add animated light bulbs above the girls heads that turned on) to add emphasis to the girls' cluelessness (they get a paycheck from a job and don't know what to do with it).

While basically watchable and offering some amusing moments, "Simple Life" is a wasted opportunity - in the end, it seems simply too obvious and forced in its attempts to show a culture clash and the lack of any sort of consequence for the girls' actions make the whole thing seem rather pointless. Of course, there's already another season of "Simple Life" on the way, since the show became a surprise hit. I'm not entirely against that, either, but I hope there's some serious rethinking (my idea would be for the two girls - who have probably never taken public transit in their lives - to try and make their way from Los Angeles to New York with only a few bucks to start off with, no credit cards and no free hotel stays for Paris, only earning money after completing various tasks - sort of a mixture of this show and Bunim/Murray's "Road Rules") of the series before its tried again.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Simple Life" is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. This is a fairly nice looking series, as sharpness and detail are quite good throughout the show. Colors remain bright and vibrant, with good saturation and no smearing. Some light shimmer was occasionally noticed, but there weren't any other issues I noticed.

SOUND: "Simple Life" is presented in Dolby 2.0. Aside from some music, this is completely dialogue-driven. Dialogue remains clean and clear throughout.

EXTRAS: Aside from an 8-minute test presentation, we get 5 lengthy outtakes, including a 17-minute deleted job for a taxidermist that was shown in part on a couple of the show's promos. I'm not sure why this bit was taken out, as it's far, far funnier than anything in the series, in my opinion. A couple minutes longer, and this could have made the best episode of the season.

Final Thoughts: Entertaining at times, but depressing in some regards, "The Simple Life" is cotton candy television - good for a few random chuckles, but otherwise largely unmemorable. Fox's DVD edition provides very good video, fine audio and a few decent supplements. Fans of the series can pick up the DVD set for fairly cheap, but others should rent it or skip it.

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