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New Releases: Reality Queen! (2019) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1649 days ago on Entertainment - Nothing defines early 2000’s television more than the uprising of the reality television star:  there have been celebutantes, dating show contestants, and “survivors” of various types infesting the media for the past few decades with no signs of stopping anytime soon.  Proving Andy Warhol’s concept of everyone’s “15 minutes of fame,” we’ve seen an embarrassing assortment of personalities come and go, while others have lingered around us like a stubborn venereal disease over the years.  It is a subject matter that has been oft-parodied, and here we have yet another example of this that nobody asked for.Steven Jay Bernheim’s satirical Reality Queen! explores the highs and lows of the reality star as we follow an heiress’s antics in front of the public eye.  London Logo (Julia Faye West) is a Paris Hilton-esque figure who has seen her share of scandal, ranging from “nip slips” on public television to a supposedly leaked sex tape with Mike Tyson.  She has been feeling dethroned by reality star Kristy Kim (Candace Kita) and her family—who are referred to as “the Kims” in a not-so-subtle nod to the Kardashians—so London makes a desperate attempt at relevancy again, all of which is documented by BBC journalist Diana Smelt-Marlin (Kate Orsini).Reality Queen! completely understands the world into which it is delving.  The mockumentary nails all of the reality television tropes on the head with a 2-ton sledgehammer, both to its benefit and detriment.  The way most of the film is shot feels like an E! special from the early 2000’s, with its obnoxious pop music, to its “edgy” handheld camera work, to a paparazzo swarming around London like a vulture when she sustains a bloody head injury.  In that regard, it completely succeeds in what it sought out to do.  At times, however, this gimmick feels heavy-handed: after 30 minutes of the film showcasing London’s ditziness and mostly self-inflicted drama, it feels less like a clever novelty and more like a belabored one-trick pony.  The humor of this film ranges from mildly clever to groan-worthy, and the further it progresses, the more it leans upon the latter, unfortunately.  Its most genuinely entertaining scene is brought to us by the late, great John Witherspoon, who plays a plumber attempting to rescue London’s gerbil (whom she thinks is a miniature chihuahua) from meeting its demise in a toilet.  Outside of that, much of the humor misses its mark, relying on cartoonish impersonations for gags:  dim-witted blondes, ruthless executives, and pervy stalkers are only funny for so long in a comedy until they start feeling like an ill-conceived SNL sketch.   The biggest issue with Reality Queen! is that it feels well over a decade too late.  The social commentary it makes regarding the media and vapid celebrities is woefully outdated and nothing feels revelatory at this point.  Like the main character herself, Paris Hilton’s popularity has diminished so greatly that a spot-on parody of her like this feels pointless.  It begs the question “who is this movie for?”  Teetering on the cusp of nostalgia but not entirely committing to it, this film brings to mind an era in television of which many would rather not be reminded, and there is not enough payoff in the end to make it worth going down that trashy rabbit hole.Reality Queen! provides some laughs and has some enjoyable moments, but they are packaged in a container of cheap gags and irrelevancy.  This is the type of movie to catch on cable at 3AM with insomnia when expectations are low and you can drift off without feeling too sad about missing the ending.  Don’t expect a masterpiece and you might have a bit of fun with it; otherwise, skip it.--Andrea Riley

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