First there was James Franco tackling General Hospital. And now we have Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, critical darling Christian Bale, and High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens casting vanity aside to play common fameosexuals in E!’s banal yet oddly watchable Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.*
(*Okay, so I’m really just making this up. But I couldn’t take on recapping this “reality” show unless I imagined it as an indie movie starring A-list stars. Or something like it. So let’s keep this party going, shall we?)
Jolie is certainly the star of the show. Her Khloe is a scattered newlywed who dreams of luxuriating on the couch in her Los Angeles mansion while her basketball pro husband is “in season.” But lured by the prospect of maintaining disposable fame, helping her sister earn income through a family-owned clothing boutique, and drinking tequila, she departs for Miami and is immediately confronted by her sister Kourtney’s terrifying, rage-filled baby daddy (Bale, basically reprising his role from American Psycho). The juxtaposition between Khloe’s home life (where her husband kisses and caresses her on the floor, and essentially treats her like a curvaceous goddess) is in stark contrast to the treatment she gets in Miami (where she’s picked at by pretty much everyone for her travel plans, her drinking habits, and her penchant for showing up late for work).
Things come to a head between the sisters in the middle of a celebratory night of clubbing. Kourtney (Hudgens) chides Khloe to put down her champagne flute, head home, and rest up for a morning photo shoot. Khloe cleverly shoots back: “Suck my d***!” The next morning, the latter character is filled with the kind of regret that lingers throbbingly in the temples, and winds up slumped under an afghan on the floor of her retail shop.
Jolie, shedding her real life image of doting mother and tireless U.N. ambassador, clearly revels in Khloe’s addictively salty dialogue. At a photo shoot with Kourtney, Khloe finds herself naked (save for some body paint) and screeching “I’m f****** naked right now and I’m fat as f***!” Jolie’s half-smirk at the end of the scene says it all: Saint Angelina has the day off; an insecure socialite/craven camera-monger/modern enigma bursts through the camera instead. “We are gonna go and whore ourselves out!” she giggles, passing out a flier based on her “nude” photo to the beachgoers of Miami.
Hudgens is less convincing as Kourtney, a conflicted young mother who says she wants to “take Miami” to secure the future for her adorable son Mason. But it’s a thinly written role, and one that Hudgens struggles to make meaningful. When Kourtney visits her retail store (called Dash) and discovers there is an excrement stain in the changing area — “Someone took a s*** in the dressing room. It smelled like you don’t even wanna know,” explains an employee — Kourtney expresses dismay and outrage, but Hudgens’ face registers only mild amusement. And later, there’s not a hint of irony in her delivery when when the waiting line for said dressing room snakes halfway across the store and she asks “Why is it so busy?” (Um, hello, because there are TV cameras documenting every move the hapless characters make!)
Bale’s role as “Scott” is seriously underwritten, but he brings a preening, suit-clad awfulness to a man who professes to be a vitamin salesman/club promoter, but may actually be a cad/layabout/gadfly. Future episodes should tell the full tale, but the two minutes’ worth of “coming up this season” footage that kicked off the episode promises Bale’s story arc will be filled with yelling, teeth-clenching, and spilled blood. I will be tuning in for more, I can tell you that much!
What did you think of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami? Will you tune in again next week? And which character do you like best? (Khloe, obvs, right?) Sound off in the comments, and for all my pop-culture musings, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!