Paris Hilton was the main selling point of the movie.
Background: Unless you've been living under a rock for the last ten or so years, you'll know that the last time a movie with the header "National Lampoon" was even remotely funny was about ten years ago (even further back if you don't include derivative efforts in the Vacation series) with the first hit under the label coming out back in 1978 in the form of Animal House. These days, the name appears to be sold to boost the meager efforts of substandard fare such as National Lampoon's Barely Legal, National Lampoon's Going the Distance, and National Lampoon's Lost Reality 2; all of which were so lacking in redeeming qualities as to be laughable, but only at those who bought the movies in question or saw them in their brief, often rare appearances in limited run theatres. In fairness, the audience these movies are geared towards are those prepubescent's who catch them on cable when their parents are asleep or as date movies for the scores of folks that live in trailers; most of whom probably don't know the rich history of satire behind the original company. Growing up in the People's Republic of Massachusetts in the 1960's through 1980's, I remember when National Lampoon was still hip, cool, and wildly uneven but funny in ways that people from all backgrounds could enjoy it (some crude humor mixed in with far deeper and edgier commentary that often went over the heads of those under attack). Even after the founders sold out, it continued to provide some decent material, though increasingly watered down to the point where Hoffman and Beard, if not Kenney, probably shook their heads at the way it fell from the limelight. Still, the title alone sells movies or tickets enough to make their low budget crud profitable and that was why I gave the subject of today's review of National Lampoon's Pledge This!: Naughty Version (Unrated) a shot; for old times if nothing else.
If this doesn't scar you for life, the movie may thanks to gals like Frankentits here.
Movie: National Lampoon's Pledge This!: Naughty Version was originally shot back in 2004 as the "official" starring debut of Paris Hilton in movies. I say it that way because of her really lame porn flick being shot and released sooner though the producers saw just how bad it was and it sat on the shelf for a long time. They then decided to spice it up with some nude scenes, which offended Paris (perhaps since she wasn't in any of them) a few of which included uncredited porn stars such as the pictured Brooke Haven and Michelle Maylene below. The story was barebones basic and a back to the roots effort that had Paris as the leader of an exclusive South Beach Miami Sorority called the Gamma Gamma's. Her role as Victoria English fit her perfectly; a brain dead, mean spirited gal that used her wealth and social standing to mow over anyone she wanted to get her way, treating all like her subjects. The thin story this time was her goal to get featured by FHM magazine (yeah, like they had no financial ties to the movie) which required her to accept some geeks, freaks, and scientist types into her social world of the Gamma's.
Michelle Maylene and Brooke Haven, a couple of well known porn stars, were in this short clip.
The rest of the movie was a gratuitous display of really weak humor, punctuated by short bits with nudity and grating performances by all involved, especially Miss Hilton. To say she was a terrible actress is like saying you don't want to dive into a swimming pool full of double edged razor blades, wash the cuts with plutonium sludge, and then lick all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station clean with your tongue (a nod to Weird Al Yankovic for the gross imagery); I've seen better acting from blades of grass than this chick. The back and forth one upsmanship by the group of losers (none of whom struck me as being rocket scientist smart by the way) and the Gamma's is standard teen fare in the spirit of Revenge of the Nerds, Animal House, and scores of other flicks that often at least had the sense to include humor.
A rare moment, and very short one at that, where the movie didn't totally suck.
The group pledges the sorority because of a plumbing problem with their dorm, and end up on a floating seaplane restaurant that looked familiar with the usual love triangle present along with the archetypes such movies have (the fat chick, the old broad, the nympho, the black gal, and the street smart brunette) but none of the characters were sympathetic and all of them did so many stupid things that you'll want to avoid looking at it at Blockbuster or the local mom and pop stores you frequent, never mind pay cable, DVD, or premium cable when it comes there inevitably. The writing was largely to blame too with the minimally talented geek guy losers hamming it up like they knew no one would be watching in what should have been career suicide for all of them. I did like some of the eye candy though, like Sarah Carter (who had a recurring role in Smallville awhile back) but the average age of the cast was well above their stated roles and the direction on the movie was so bad that I suspect director William Heins and writer Cheryl Guerriero are pseudonyms for people that are either too embarrassed to admit their involvement in the movie or have been missing since taking part in it. In all, I included pictures of the best parts of the movie, noting that the nudity did not last long in any case, certainly not long enough to justify checking out this POS flick. Needless to say, I rated it as a Skip It in the spirit of the equally bad Lightspeed and The Covenant I wrote up the other day. If you want to torture someone, these are the three titles of the week you'll want to pick up.
Lame camera lighting made the occasional scenes like this one worthless.
Picture: National Lampoon's Pledge This!: Naughty Version was presented in an anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color as shot by director William Heins. A number of the scenes looked like they were glowing (too much light) and others looked like they were shot on super 8mm film. There was a lot of grain, some compression artifacts, and the editing looked like a drunken monkey was randomly tapping a lever in hopes of a Pavlovian reward for his efforts. There were numerous other problems with the picture and DVD mastering but I'm not going to further beat a dead horse here.
Carmen Electra provided a few seconds of fun.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of a 5.1 Dolby Digital English Surround track or a 2.0 English DD track; both with optional English subtitles. The vocals were hollow and lacked any placement on the surround track and there seemed to be a number of times when a single take of a scene was used, even to the point where it contained flubbed lines. The music was probably the only thing that drew my attention somewhat favorably, starting off with the classic Blondie tune Dreaming, a personal favorite of mine and continuing on with some moderately catchy tunes by Candace Marie, V-Style, a few others and ending with a cute ditty by She Rox on the credits. There was little separation between the channels and I'd have to say that the audio was a bit better than the visuals this time.
Extras: The best extra was the short making of feature included. It had everyone important involved with the project, from Paris Hilton and some of the other performers to the director and crew saying how good it was going to be. Hilton's comment about the director "he let's us do whatever we want" spoke volumes as to what happened on the shoot though. There were a couple of trailers for equally bad looking titles and a cardboard slipcase too.
Final Thoughts: National Lampoon's Pledge This!: Naughty Version was one of those titles that will sell based on the name recognition of Paris Hilton and/or National Lampoon alone, with little merit worth mentioning. The jokes were stale years ago, the situations written for the largely untalented cast proved to offer little latitude for them to shine (if they could indeed "shine"), and I almost wondered if director Heins was a porn director given how off the cuff some of the shots here were; almost as if the cast was adlibbing while intoxicated (I suppose it would be better than driving under the influence) instead of following a script. Still, Paris made it clear in the BTS that he let them all run free and wild so that puts some of the blame firmly on their shoulders too, making National Lampoon's Pledge This!: Naughty Version (Unrated) a collaborative effort in terms of how terrible it was. I know that I'll hear from some who say this movie was so bad it was good or that the brand name is indicative of poorly made movies that some people like but it was all old ground that has been traveled far better before so pass this one up.