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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Bottoms Up (2006).

My notes on Bottoms Up (2006).

‘Hollywood is a ten-story cock just fucking everybody in its path. Like Madonna.’

If this cost a lot more money, I’d assume it was some sort of Springtime for Hitler-esque scam – surely, even at pitch stage, the notion of a Hollywood insider rom-com co-starring Jason Mewes and Paris Hilton sounds like a recipe for scaring off audiences? The set-up is that Owen (Mewes) is a Minnesota bartender with Cocktail-type bottle-juggling skills (demonstrated by someone else’s arms in close-up) who needs to raise money to save his Dad’s steak house. Owen goes to Hollywood, and stays with ‘Gay Uncle Earl’ (David Keith) while entering a cash prize bartending competition that turns out to be rigged in favour of a local asshole. After a couple of run-ins with Lisa Mancini (Hilton), the spoiled brat daughter of a studio head (Tim Thomerson) who is having a publicity-inspired romance with star hunk Hayden Field (Brian Hallisay), Owen blackmails her into sponsoring him as an in-crowder so he can get dirt on Field and hangers-on which Earl can use in his career as a muckraker on a Hollywood scandal TV show. Outwardly obnoxious wild child Lisa (who varies from other Hilton roles in that she’s brunette) secretly runs a homeless shelter and Hayden is a potentially down-to-earth nice guy bewildered by sudden fame, which gives Owen a crisis of confidence about scandal-mongering. Despite the fact that both stars are in that select circle of perfomers who can’t even play themselves on screen, the leads get into an unbelievable, and borderline creepy romance.

The mcguffin is a gay porn jerkoff tape Hayden made as a beginner, and there’s a tiny subplot about a young hopeful (Lindsay Gareth) who gets drugged and raped by one of Hayden’s entourage (Jon Abrahams) – she gets revenge, but this nastiness is so out of place in an otherwise silly, sloppy comedy that it’s a surprise writer-director Eric MacArthur didn’t drop it entirely. Keith wins points for strenuous mugging in a grossly dumb caricature role, but isn’t remotely funny. Thomerson needn’t even have shown up. Phil Morris is prissily annoying as Earl’s mean boss, who gets incidental comeuppance and winds up doing weather reports from an ice-floe. Kevin Smith supports his pal by popping in to deliver a scarcely cutting-edge couch monologue about anal-probing aliens being ‘the biggest gaybos in the universe’. Mewes has sometimes got laughs in supporting roles in Smith’s films (though even Smith can’t get him to work as a screen lead) and Hilton was at least a good sport about House of Wax – a film promoted with ‘see Paris die’ and built around the crowd-pleasing spectacle of her head being caved in – but they aren’t actors, and can handle neither the goofy slob comedy nor the moments of attempted sensitivity. The title was better served by that old British comedy which used to be on TV all the time but has fallen out of favour since it’s all about schoolmaster Jimmy Edwards’s urge to whack little boys’ bums with a stick. Compared to this, that was comedy gold.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Film review – Bottoms Up (2006).

  1. Walt O’Hara poor fella, forced to sit through this. Your eyes must be smarting…

    Anne Billson Do you remember Jimmy Edwards’ TV series, which went by the charming title of Whack-O? Just think of the loss to culture occasioned by the banning of corporal punishment.

    Kim Newman Even in the ’70s, when my school still had corporal punishment, there was clearly something wrong with Jimmy Edwards’ cane-happy comedy persona. I wonder if the climax of Bottoms Up, when the schoolboys take up arms against Edwards, was an influence on the Lindsay Anderson of If …. ?

    Michael Brooke I once saw Lindsay Anderson emphatically denying that ‘Zero de Conduite’ was his primary influence. Admittedly, he didn’t then go on to say that ‘Bottoms Up’ was, but I think your argument is pretty damn persuasive. Talking of corporal punishment, I was expecting the worst when given a film on that subject starring Max Bygraves and Richard O’Sullivan to review the other month, but ‘Spare The Rod’ actually turned out to be pretty good (and serious).

    Valerie Laws Perhaps Secretary was an homage to ‘Professor’ Jimmy Ewards…and the cane happy teacher and slipper happy dads of the Beano.

    Michael Brooke I’ve often commented on the startling resemblance between James Spader and Jimmy Edwards. Sharing a common Christian name is just the tip of what I suspect is a very large iceberg.

    Valerie Laws indeed Michael, their surnames are almost anagrams, give or take the odd letter. Spader was often seen thumbing thru Edwards’ acclaimed autobiography, ‘Sex, lies and handlebar moustaches’.

    Posted by kimnewman | April 9, 2020, 11:25 am
  2. Shamefully I now want to watch this 🙁

    Posted by Bob Swallow | April 9, 2020, 2:34 pm

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