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The Bling Ring: Youth gone wild

Rating: **1/2



DIRECTED BY Sofia Coppola
STARS Emma Watson, Katie Chang

Emma Watson in The Bling Ring (Photo: A24 Films)
  • Emma Watson in The Bling Ring (Photo: A24 Films)

Writer-director Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring is ostensibly a look at the real-life group of teens who got away with burglarizing celebrities' homes for almost an entire year before being caught, but the true takeaway from this viewing experience is that Paris Hilton is even dumber than we all thought. (And that's really saying something.)

Based on Nancy Jo Sales' Vanity Fair article "The Suspect Wore Louboutins," the movie follows cucumber-cool ringleader Rebecca (Katie Chang), jumpy Marc (Israel Broussard) and the rest of the gang as they scour the gossip sites to find out when certain celebrities will be out of town, Google-search their home addresses, and then help themselves into the houses if the owners are dim enough to leave a door unlocked. Surprisingly, many of them do just that. And at the top of the list is Hilton, who makes access to her property so damn easy — she keeps the key under the front-door mat — that the kids rip her off approximately a half-dozen times. Other personalities like Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox are also targeted — these teens were as interested in pinching these stars' clothes as their cash and jewelry — but the greed and hubris of the members of this criminal clique eventually lead to their capture.

Coppola's screenplay is admirably faithful to the actual events that went down (although character names have been changed to protect the guilty; since this info is public, it's not clear why), and I especially enjoyed Emma Watson attempting to further break away from the Harry Potter universe by playing the trashiest member of the gang. But while Coppola has a clear understanding of not only the sense of entitlement exhibited by today's breed of spoiled brat but also the extreme ways in which they try to travel the same orbits as their idols, she hobbles herself by allowing this to clock in at only 90 minutes. As such, the film takes a lot of character shortcuts that restrict more resonance to the piece.

As for Hilton, not only does the movie expose her home-security ineptitude, it also reveals that she gave permission for her own house to be used for filming. Presumably, she thought that such a gesture either would make audiences more sympathetic to her plight or would allow us peasants the opportunity to bask in her tackiness. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, a Mensa member compared to Ms. Hilton, "Stupid is as stupid does."

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