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Emma Watson and Two Tales of Hollywood Survival

Emma Watson and Two Tales of Hollywood Survival

There’s something adorable about seeing both “The Bling Ring” and “This Is the End” and knowing that the MPAA felt them to be equally R-worthy; the former features kids partying like adults while the latter concerns adults behaving childishly. Odder yet is the simple fact that two wildly different films opening next week both see Emma Watson breaking into other celebrities’ homes.

Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” (Criticwire average: B-) takes on the true story of a gang of California teens, including Watson’s Nicki, who broke into the homes of celebrities and helped themselves to clothes, cash, and accessories. On the other end of the spectrum, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s “This is the End” (Criticwire average: B+) watches as James Franco’s housewarming party is interrupted by nothing less than the Apocalypse, with Franco’s home becoming a makeshift shelter that Watson later breaks back into in order to help herself to the remaining rations of the host and his friends.

One’s a droll condemnation of tabloid culture; the other, a crass, knowing lampoon of particular famous personalities, Watson herself included. Like her fellow “Harry Potter” alums, she’s trying to retain off-screen relevance in the wake of significant on-screen success, and it seems that her modes in each film reflect two complementary interpretations on what it takes to succeed in L.A. In “Ring,” she’s a materialist, running with the girls, eager to define herself by pretending to be someone else, someone already famous, and subsequently turning her own infamy into a career. In “End,” she’s a survivalist, fighting off the boys, pretending to be herself and desperately taking what she needs to survive in the wasteland of Hollywood.

It wouldn’t seem so pertinent if the tables were turned more often, if more films featured young men desperate to stay relevant within a fickle entertainment industry and more endlessly self-effacing chick flicks cropped up. Imagine if “End” instead featured the cast of, say, “Bridesmaids,” with Daniel Radcliffe instead showing up, begging for supplies, or if “The Bling Ring” had been all about the young studs of “Twilight” helping themselves to shelves of Nikes and racks of Armani suits. Could we then imagine either film doing even half the business that “End” and “Ring” likely will in the coming weeks?

Yeah, I couldn’t either. When you think about it, it really isn’t so silly to see that Emma Watson has become next week’s unwitting mascot for ruthless survival in a celebrity-driven world — a fact that, like both films, is pretty funny and a little sad.

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