Monday, November 23, 2009

Blonde Ambition (2007)

  


One day I’d like to know what kind of leverage Executive Producer Joe Simpson--yes the father and failed manager to both Jessica and Ashlee Simpson--had on Scott Marshal that got him to direct the 2007 straight-to-DVD insta-bomb Blonde Ambition. Not that Marshal has found any recognition in the industry other than being the son of director Gary Marshall. But you have to be a complete toolshed to get hooked up on a project with the premiere dirtbag-dad--especially if Jessica Simpson was to play the lead. At the time, Jessica was haunted by movie-career-ending reviews from the 2006 lackluster Employee of the Month. But what I really want to know is, why Joe Simpson thinks he is qualified to produce movies? Joe has already lowered the standards of pop music (a hard feat in itself)--now he wants to do it to the film industry? I guess so, because, as far as acting, writing, directing, and editing is concerned, it seems like this movie had no standards at all.


First let’s talk about the story: What we have is your classic girl’s boyfriend moves to New York City, girl surprises boyfriend in New York only to find him in bed with another woman, girl stays in New York to prove herself and lands a job that she isn’t qualified for, and then gets a complete make over that she didn’t pay for, and begins to succeed professionally until two coworkers team up and begin to sabotage girl’s career, meanwhile girl meets new boy, forsakes old boy who then acts as a spoiler, so girl and new boy are star-crossed until they kiss and make up at the end, and, of course, she has to save her grandfather’s shop from the clutches of an evil business person. Considering that this sounds like a montage of about a hundred different movies that have been released over the past decade, the filmmakers had numerous choices, like The Devil Wears Prada, Legally Blonde (1 and 2), and Sweet Home Alabama, to emulate. Why did they get it so wrong?

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With Jessica in the lead, it’s not like there was a lot of raw talent to work with. Even with the addition of Luke Wilson as the male lead, the acting was never there. It is easy to buy the air-head moments--Jessica has been known for these throughout her career, it’s her niche. But there has to be something else there. Incapable of showing emotion, it seems, Jessica sometimes just recited lines, not really knowing what to do with them, such as in the scene when her character, Katie, caught her boyfriend cheating. OK, it’s a romantic comedy, and it’s supposed to be funny. But you need inflection for comedy too; perhaps that’s why they never gave her any jokes. The real problem is the faces that Jessica makes, not one scene free of these odd contortions: eyebrow arching, forehead crinkling, lips snarling, eyes bulging. I’m not a fan of plastic surgery, but now I can think of at least one practical use for botox.
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Wilson’s performance was lukewarm at best. He phoned it in, and why not? He’s been playing the same character his whole career. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes Luke Wilson’s Luke Wilson is pretty good. Just not in this movie. For one thing, he looked about forty years too old for Jessica. And too old to be playing the part of the underachieving, late bloomer guy with a big heart. At that age it isn’t endearing, it’s pathetic. And apparently his choice in movies is questionable.
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There were overdone scenes, like when things weren’t going Katie’s way, her luggage opened up in the middle of the sidewalk, which just so happened to be over a steam grate, so of course there had to be a Marilyn Monroe dress moment--probably Papa Joe’s idea. Technically, every other scene had blatant editing botches, such as plot inversions, where something is referred to that hasn’t happened yet, and times where characters are holding something, then they’re not.
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Sure Joe Simpson is a hack, and mostly Marshall plays non-speaking roles such as Skateboard Kid in daddy’s Pretty Woman, or as Man Kissing Dog in daddy’s Georgia Rule. But Joe did manage his daughters through the peak of their success, and movie making is in Marshall’s blood; between the two of them I would think they could get something right. But they don’t.





Images embedded from
      timeinc.net
      movieweb.com
      tf.org
     screenhead.com

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