You would think that a mix of classic movies ‘Big’ and ‘Mean Girls’ would produce a fantastic movie. I mean, how could you possibly go wrong? Well, ‘The Hot Chick’ manages to go wrong; luckily in a way that makes it just about right. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nowhere near ‘Big’ or ‘Mean Girls’ right, but it’s a classic mid-naughties teen comedy. If today’s censors were to rate this film they would go toes-up within the first ten minutes - it has so may inappropriate jokes that at times I wished the Earth would swallow either me or the film up. What can I say, it was a different time! However, as a guilty fan of movies from people such as Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Jim Carrey and Rob Schneider, something about the bright colours and toilet humour keeps me watching. I just made sure to shower afterwards, as I suggest you do.

Mean Girls mirrors the Hot Chick in so many ways

The Hot Chick was released in 2002 and stars Rob Schneider, Rachel McAdams (both of whom play the lead character Jessica) and Anna Faris, who plays the loyal, good-at-heart, snoball-craving best friend April. The story revolves around the popular, cheer-leading Mean Girl Jessica and her gaggle of underhands who love hanging out at the Mall and terrorising the less popular girls. One day during one of their regular Shopping Mall visits, after scoring free drinks and clashing with a rival group of mean girls, Jessica spots an unusual store selling all sorts of cryptic African curiosities. She is strangely drawn to the store and enters with her entourage.

In the store she spots some fabulous earrings which she wishes to purchase but is told, in no uncertain terms, that they are not for sale. Not one who will stand to be told no, she then pretends to buy another pair that is for sale, but swaps them with the cursed earrings when the store owner (the mysterious Madam Mambuza) isn’t looking. As soon as possible, Jessica dons her new purchase.

The girls turning heads at the Mall

Some heads are turned at the worst possible time!

In the meantime, we are introduced to Clive Maxtone, a ne’er-do-well who is in the process of holding up a gas station. It just so happens that the mean girls are headed his way in order to get some gas. Clive is forced to pretend he’s a member of staff and proceeds to fill the car and check the oil, all the while getting belittled and annoyed by Jessica and her cronies. Once they have had their fun, the girls head off. Unfortunately, Jessica drops one of the magical earrings she is wearing, which Clive scoops up as soon as he sees it. Later that evening, when Clive eventually decides on a whim to try on the earring and falls asleep, his and Jessica’s bodies are swapped.

Once the two have come to terms with what has occurred, Rachel must go about convincing her friends who she is so that they can aid her in getting her correct body back. There is plenty else going on in the film, including Jessica’s parents who are having a rough time in their marriage and whom Jessica must help, disguised at the gardener Taquito. This leads to some horrendously awkward situations! While Jessica is having her own identity crisis, it appears her little brother Booger is having similar issues! Of course, Clive has no doubt drawn the long straw in this situation and has a ball in Jessica’s body; this makes it all the more difficult for her to get her original body back.

Jessica flirting to score some free drinks

This guy has no future in the Mall kiosk business!

Incredibly, The Hot Chick has an amazing cast, catching actors either before their careers took off, or grabbing once successful child and teen stars who most people, in particular 90’s kids, know well. Apart from the incredibly talented, Oscar-nominated Rachel McAdams, the movie features the likes of Adam Sandler (The Waterboy, Anger Management, 50 First Dates), Matthew Lawrence (Boy Meets World), Tia and Tamera Mowry (Sister Sister), Robert Davi (the Goonies, Die Hard), Eric Christian Olsen (The Thing, NCIS), Alexandra Holden (Friends, Drop Dead Gorgeous) and Melora Harden (The Office). Even well-known naughties singers Angie Stone and Ashlee Simpson are involved. The actors are the one thing keeping the wheels on this bus, which constantly threatens to shake itself apart throughout. McAdams in particular - we don’t see much of her as Clive but she does it so well I was left wishing we could see more of his storyline.

In a theme almost identical to Mean Girls, leader Jessica maintains a firm grip on the rest of the group's eating habits!

The gang encounter a rival group of hot chicks at the Mall

Another amazing thing is that this film actually came out before Mean Girls, which is incredible given the similarity and the fact that Rachel McAdams plays the lead role. This leads me to believe that the Hot Chick is the much fabled missing link between Clueless and Mean Girls. The film was originally rated R, but Director Tom Brady edited a whole bunch out to get the film its final PG-13 rating. It’s easy to tell that The Hot Chick just scraped through. Don’t worry though, if the PG-13 version is quite cringe-worthy enough for you, the home versions all have the deleted R scenes intact.

Of course, if you’re anything like me you’re here for the Mall. The Centre featured in the film is the Shops at Montebello (known as Montebello Town Center at the time of filming) in Montebello, California. Montebello is a Town just to the East of downtown Los Angeles. Fans of Mallrate may recognise the name - it was the filming location of the first ever Christmas episode of hit sitcom ‘New Girl’. It is a mid-sized Shopping Mall consisting of around 160 stores over three levels. The Mall opened in glorious 1985 and was expanded in 2009 to feature a wing of luxury brands.

Mall security does not mess around in Montebello!

The intruiging and mysterious Mambuza African curio store

The escalator scenes were filmed on the west wing of the Mall, just outside the Macy’s department store. The store seen in the film is actually a Robinson-May department store but Macy’s replaced it in 2006. Another store featured in The Hot Chick, where Jessica plants underwear in a rival’s handbag, is a Windsor Fashion store. This store unfortunately closed back in 2008 and is now a Hollister, so head there if you want to replay the scene. Although the basic outline is still there, the Mall has changed a great deal since the filming. One store which remains to this day is the Daniel's Jewellers, which can be clearly seen in the background of the Windsor Fashion scene.

A Rasta Adam Sandler teaching the teens some African history

Jessica is about to discover that she has swapped bodies with a strange man!

In the movie it seems like your usual, awesome mid-sized American Mall, but the Shops at Montebello now has a more muted and elegant appearance, thanks to its multi-million dollar makeover back in 2009. It is a fabulous Centre, perfectly situated to be one of the great Californian Mall celebrities along with the likes of the Sherman Oaks Galleria or the Del Amo Centre.

If you listened to the critics, you would think that this film truly bombed. However, it was actually a great success, almost doubling its budget at the Box Office. Even the weird publicity, where they billed the film as ‘Miss Popularity’ in previews, didn’t seem to knock it. That being said, it’s hard to argue with the critics - it’s not the greatest movie ever made and has an abysmal rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is strangely fun and watchable. Rob Schneider has a way of making you care about his character, no matter how hopeless or hapless. The girls too - you imagine you're going to hate them when the movie starts, but they are all redeemed and loveable at the finish. As the great Roger Ebert describes it: It is too vulgar for anyone under 13, and too dumb for anyone over 13. Yes. Yes it is - but sometimes we need a little dumb. If you get nothing else out of The Hot Chick, at least there is a Shopping Mall, plus the soundtrack is awesome!

All images: Touchstone / Happy Madison / Buena Vista

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