Meet London Logo (Julia Faye West), an arrogant heiress who has somehow found fame for being present. At one time, her elegance was popular. But now, she clings on to any shred of attention by releasing music, an autobiography, and rebooting an on-air partnership with partygoer Rochelle Ritzy (Shelli Boone). The pressure for relevance stems from her fear of being pushed out by trendy, big-bootied celebrity, Kristy Kim (Candace Kita). As journalist Diana Smelt-Marlin (Kate Orsini) follows her hopeful comeback, London strategizes publicity stunts with her publicist/crisis control manager Winston Spritz (Loren Lester) and her agent Louie Lozenger (Ben Begley).
So, London Logo is Paris Hilton, Rochelle Ritzy is Nicole Richie, and Kristy Kim is Kim Kardashian. Now what? Some comedies stretch a one-note joke, but Reality Queen! tries its darnedest to stretch a dated one-note joke. Some of this material dates back nearly two decades, when Hilton found pop culture popularity through scandalous headlines and her hit reality show The Simple Life (co-starring Richie). Director Steven Jay Bernheim co-wrote this screenplay with seven (!) other writers, and all everyone wants to do is beat celebutante ditziness into the ground.
There’s actually modern material to draw from to make a pointed satire about Hilton. In Netflix’s doc The American Meme, Paris Hilton gives a surprisingly candid interview about how she’s gone so long without a genuine family connection, that she looks towards her fanbase for a sense of belonging. The material is bleak, but there’s inspiration. What if Reality Queen! focused on London Logo’s own isolation? Instead of competing with Kristy and surrounding herself with a team of mindless Hollywood flunkies, she could’ve reached out to fans who enjoy her from afar, but are shocked when they learn how desperate and dependant she is.
There are some lowbrow laughs in Reality Queen!. My favourites were an unnecessarily long plane ride to a club a few streets away, and a sight gag involving a small DJ who can barely reach his equipment but can still make music. There’s also a sidetrack with London’s tiny chihuahua (which is a guinea pig) getting lost in a toilet, and the late John Witherspoon shows up as Joe the Plumber. That scene reminded me of how naturally funny Witherspoon was, but it also highlights the go-for-broke gusto of the film’s cast.
But as the film rolls along, Reality Queen! gets worse. The filmmakers squeeze and wring out every last insignificant detail about how stupid London Logo is. Even when they resort to recycling earlier jokes, the fumes are not sufficient enough to cross this thin flick’s finish line.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie