Recently I got the chance to review a film from director Steve Miner. If the name sounds familiar, you might remember him from his directorial efforts like Friday the 13th Part II, Friday the 13th Part 3D, House, Warlock, and Lake Placid. Naturally, I was a little bit surprised when I popped Private Valentine: Blonde & Dangerous (Previously called “Major Movie Star”) into the player and was confronted with not masked killers, malicious houses, gigantic crocodiles, or Julian Sands, but rather with Jessica Simpson. As a critic though, it’s important to step away from your favorite genres and make sure you can judge a movie without precondition. Also, did you see the cover of this DVD? There are two gigantic reasons to watch it right there – yowza!
Private Valentine follows the story of Megan Valentine, a Jessica Simpson-esque movie star who finds her talking animal-buddy film flopping while her no good accountant swindlers her out of her $15.7 million fortune, leaving her broke and homeless. After a night of painful realizations, drinking, and discovering her boyfriend’s unfortunate habit of having sex with men, she does the only logical thing – she joins the Army. Once there, of course, she sticks out like a sore thumb and earns the ire of her First Sergeant. Valentine has to battle her own pampered life style, the doubts of her fellow soldiers, all while attempting to rebuild some sort of semblance of her former life again. Can she handle both?
Going into this film, I was hoping for a little bit of In the Army Now, a la Pauly Shore. What I got was pretty standard popcorn fair. The movie is actually pretty enjoyable. It drags a little bit right around the 40 minute mark as they rush through some of the obligatory team bonding moments, but Jessica Simpson is at home here playing what appears to be a somewhat autobiographical role. There are plenty of recognizable faces, like Cheri Oteri, Vivica A. Fox, and Steve Guttenberg to fill out the roles. Simpson gets to have a little fun taking shots at a character clearly modeled on/for her. While she won’t blow you out of the water, she delivers an effective performance with a number of highlights, including stripper pole jokes and a scene where a group of female Privates (tee-hee!) eat chocolate bars seductively while cheesy porno music plays. Not kidding. There are also a few scenes in which Simpson shoots a gaze at the camera powerful enough to melt any man – this movie is worth watching for those moments alone.
Despite being somewhat predictable, the film is advertised and marketed as being a little bit of fun girl power and it hits the right notes for its target audience. While I’m not in the demographic they’re aiming for, as I mentioned, there are a few genuine laugh out loud moments and the production seemed to have good cooperation with the army, as there is a lot of equipment and accurate uniforms. If you’ve got a girl who is looking for some light hearted popcorn fun, any male can survive this film because, let’s be honest, Jessica Simpson is a completely, totally, utterly, drop dead gorgeous babe. A light hearted, 25% In the Army Now 40% Private Benjamin 45% Jessica Simpson is Hot type of film that isn’t out to break records, shatter expectations, or make a difference in your life. It’s just a fairly entertaining and strangely charming way to spend 98 minutes.