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The Hot Chick

Vying to be the season's most unabashedly entertaining laugher -- with many mirthful shrieks coming from a Friday night sneak-preview crowd in Hollywood -- Touchstone's "The Hot Chick" stars Rob Schneider as a teenage beauty stuck in the body of a petty criminal. A better date movie than "Gangs of New York", if nothing else, "Chick" has strong appeal for girls and young women despite the potential turnoff of the title.

The directorial debut of Tom Brady, who co-wrote with Schneider the equally zany "The Animal", and produced by Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Production Company, "Chick" is several degrees shy of the gross-out contests one expects from current teen fare. With a few real critics chiming in, the film ought to be handily profitable.

In the days before a major cheerleading competition, pretty-but-haughty Jessica (Rachel McAdams), in a supernatural body switch having something to do with magic earrings, wakes up in the body of Clive (Schneider), and vice versa. While not until near the end do we see what has become of Clive in Jessica Body's -- actually it's good to leave that part out -- the majority of the movie centers on Jessica in Clive's body, with Schneider having a ball playing a very beleaguered high schooler.

From the first shocking moments after the switcheroo to such over-the-top scenes as her first visit to a men's room (with a funny cameo by Dick Gregory), Jessica's impossible dilemma leads to very bizarre situations. One of the best is her taking on the persona of Taquito, a gardener hired by her father (Michael O'Keefe) with whom Jessica's parents try to get chummy, including her mom (Melora Hardin) attempting a seduction.

The gender confusion eventually includes Jessica's best friend, April (Anna Faris), falling for her in the guise of Clive. Faris ("Scary Movie 2") is very light on her feet opposite Schneider, who has to do surprisingly little to evoke laughs. The two are just a scream in what amounts to classic screen comedy: a woman-in-a-man's-body-in-a-dress desired by a woman.

Making the most of her time on screen, newcomer McAdams has a brief stint near the end as a very sleazy Clive in Jessica Body's that shows how raunchy the movie could have been. Against tough odds in such a femme-centric film, Matthew Lawrence and Eric Christian Olsen as the boyfriends of Jessica and April, respectively, are lukewarm. The young actresses who flourish in the not overwritten supporting roles include Alexandra Holden, Maritza Murray, Sam Doumit, Megan Kuhlmann and twins Tia and Tamera Mowry. Executive producer Sandler appears in a few goofy scenes as a dreadlock-sporting pothead.

THE HOT CHICK

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Touchstone Pictures. A Happy Madison production

Credits: Director: Tom Brady; Screenwriters: Tom Brady, Rob Schneider; Producers: John Schneider, Carr D'Angelo; Executive producers: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Guy Riedel; Director of photography: Tim Suhrstedt; Production designer: Marc Fisichella; Editor: Peck Prior; Costume designer: Alix Friedberg; Music: John Debney. Cast: Clive/Jessica: Rob Schneider; April: Anna Faris; Billy: Matthew Lawrence; Jessica/Clive: Rachel McAdams; Jake: Eric Christian Olsen; Stan: Robert Davi; Carol: Melora Hardin.

MPAA rating PG-13, running time 102 minutes.

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