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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film notes – Major Movie Star

My notes on Major Movie Star (aka Private Valentine: Blonde & Dangerous) (2008)

It’s beyond irony casting Jessica Simpson in a film with this title, especially since she’s cast as a blonde, bubbly star of paper-thin comedies about talking dogs or time-travelling disco dancers who yearns to be taken seriously as an actress but thinks she’s suitable for the star part in The Barbra Streisand Story.  This sort of Hollywood inside jokery only works if the scenes with self-involved showbiz types are more real, cynical and funny than made-up movies glimpsed in film-within-a-film sequences – but Major Movie Star is an entirely predictable, gutless, barely adequate riff on ‘80s army comedies (mainly Private Benjamin, with a bit of Stripes thrown in).

 

Megan Valentine (Simpson) discovers her entourage hate her, that her for-publicity-purposes soap star boyfriend (Bryce Johnson) is sleeping with her camp controlling manager (Michael Hitchcock) and her foot-fetishist accountant cousin (Kurt Fuller) has stolen all her money.  After a very mild binge, she winds up at an army recruitment centre and – fast-forwarding past implausibilities – signs up for a hitch because abseiling gear is flattering (!).  Basic training goes the way anyone who’s ever seen a services comedy would expect: Megan fouls up and keeps earning her platoon extra miles or push-ups, makes mild enemies of a drill sergeant (Vivica A. Fox) who used to be a B starlet (we see her with frizzy hair squeaking at a giant worm in a clip) and a gung ho embittered divorcee out to get her stripes back (Cheri Oteri), wins over a bunch of one-trait-apiece barrack-mates (Aimee Garcia, Olesya Rulin, Keiko Agena, Jill Marie Jones), flirts a bit with the nice training sergeant (Ryan Sypek) and starts to use movie skills to get through endurance tests (climbing a greasy pole because she once played a stripper, etc).  Though her tanned agent (hi, Steve Guttenberg – long time no see!) she gets out of the contract with the government, but goes back to complete training and win the climactic exercise because she’s turned her life around, made friends and started to rely on herself, yadda yadda oh yeah I believe it …

 

It’s full of obvious gags which are still implausible – when all the other recruits are on the parade ground at 5.00 am, Megan is still passed out in her bunk like a princess, but don’t film stars have to get up that early anyway?  Director Steve Miner remains the king of needless movies – he last did the Day of the Dead remake (which also had girl soldiers), and his comedies (Remember Soul Man? Hey, why not remake it with Zac Efron?) are just as marginal as his horror films.  Someone puts down Megan Valentine by saying they’ve only seen her on planes – which might be funny in a top-grossing Reese Witherspoon theatrical release, but is a bit sad in a film made at a direct-to-DVD level where getting an in-flight movie deal would be a huge coup.  Not quite bad enough to be excruciating – by not even attempting much in the way of jokes, it avoids too much falling-flat, and most of the cast are likeable enough (even Simpson isn’t as irritating as she might be).  Despite one f-bomb (in an out-of-nowhere Joe Pesci imitation) and a scene where the girls go down on chocolate bars, it’s never crude enough to make the army hazing scenes anything like believable: if Fox spoke more like R. Lee Ermey (the film starts out by putting Simpson in the Vincent d’Onofrio Pvt Gomer Pyle role) and Simpson ended up flashing her perky smile in Abu Ghraib torture-and-humiliation photos, Major Movie Star might actually be funny though it probably couldn’t have counted on borrowing military bases, uniforms and vehicles to keep the budget down.

 

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Discussion

One thought on “Film notes – Major Movie Star

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