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Arts & Culture/ Reel Dealz
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White Chicks
by:Edwardo Jackson

MOVIE BIASES: The Wayanses are an acquired taste but the buzz is surprisingly strong.
MAJOR PLAYERS: Shawn & Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie 2), Jaime King (Bulletproof Monk), and co-writer/director Keenen Ivory Wayans (Scary Movie 2)

Like, omigod! There go the Wayans on another frickin' TV talk show! Thanks to the Sony marketing machine of one of the odder summer tentpole movies, the Wayanses (from the top five entertaining Wayanses to the two stars of this movie) have been doing press everywhere. LA Times, Conan, Tavis, Oprah?!? And to a (black?) person, they've all screamed that this movie is hilarious (okay, so Tavis Smiley's as tough as a cirrus cloud, but still). So under the sway of you readers and the Sony hype machine, I went to the theater to laugh. Instead, I came, I saw…I snoozed.

Renegade cop brothers Kevin and Marcus Copeland (Wayanses) get saddled with babysitting the rich heiress Wilson sisters Tiffany and Brittany (Anne Dudek, Maitland Ward) in order to protect them from a serial kidnapper. En route to this annual summer party in the Hamptons, the high maintenance Wilson sisters are SLIGHTLY injured in an accident, but disfigured enough that they refuse to appear at the festival, which would be a sign of the Copelands screwing up again. So with the help of some nerdboy friends, Kevin and Marcus are turned into the ultimate girlfriends, reborn in whiteface as the hair-twirling, bubbleheaded Wilson sisters, vainly trying to fit into a whole new world of privilege, catfights, and, of course, shopping.

Just wake me up when it's over, okay? Financed by Revolution Studios, nicknamed "the fastest greenlight in town," "White Chicks," although founded by a great high concept, is virulently laugh or chuckle free. The script, such as it is, is boring and predictable, with most of the dialogue sounding flat and expository. You know a movie is desperate when it resorts to potty humor so juvenile, it's simply unwatchable for anyone born before the first Bush administration (but the gaggle of eight year olds behind me LOVED it). Most of the attempted jokery is forced, one note, and offensive – to white women. Look, I went to high school with nothing but rich white girls, so I know whereof I speak. Do they have their own silly, superficial, faux-erudite, and self-important culture, language, and social mores? Absolutely. But it's not nearly as bad or obvious or poorly scripted as this movie would make it out to be (there is ONE cute cross-cultural bonding scene over 50 Cent, however – but that's it). Although I haven't read any, highly popular, social jetset "chick lit" like "Bergdorf Blondes" and "The Nanny Diaries" which have burned up the NY Times Bestseller List are in no immediate danger from these pseudo-"White Chicks." It's like watching Woody Allen directing "Barbershop 3."

Every other production value of this flick feels equally as forced. Pity poor Dudek and Ward as they're reduced (?) to grossly overacting these shrill, cardboard cutouts of the socialite Hilton sisters. The clique that surrounds the Copelands as Wilsons are similarly two dimensional and over-the-top; no one has ever accused the Wayanses of subtly. Usually menacing yet amusing, Terry Crews (Baadasssss!) as vanilla-loving basketball player Latrell, although a send up of a real-life stereotype, isn't nearly played or scripted to his potential for comedy. Go ahead and blame that on Keenen Ivory Wayans' by the numbers direction. Even the soundtrack, usually the last dependable vestige of entertainment for an African-American led movie, is an unequivocal disaster.

You can put the bulk of this at the feet of Shawn and Marlon, particularly Shawn. Labeled the "Rain Man" of the Wayans family for his Tourette's-like ability to spit out crazy ideas, Shawn was the original brainchild for the concept of he and his brother as white girls. But with Marlon's uber-henpecked Marcus and Shawn's blandly flirtatious Kevin, the typically hyperactive execution leaves much to be desired.

You want to laugh during this movie just for the sheer fun and outrageousness presented on paper, but the film's genetic idiocy won't let you. "White Chick's" slapdash, all's well that end's well ending feels straight out of another movie and is wholly big brother Keenen's fault, which is sad. Because I can only dream of what an idea like this could have been with a rewrite from Tina Fey (Mean Girls), Brian Dannelly (Saved!), the Hesses (Napoleon Dynamite), or even the Barbershop 2 guy (Don D. Scott). This isn't a clarion call for subtle, satirical comedy over laugh out loud physical comedy (hello, "Dodgeball!"), even though there is potential for social satire with the casual social ignorance of the rich, female empowerment, and conventional male wisdom coming through in female form. I just want to laugh out loud period, a concept alien to Wayanses in this go 'round. So, like, omigod! Skip this frickin' movie!
If you can't sneak in, don't go in.
Like what you read? Agree/disagree with The Reel Deal? Think he's talkin' out his...HUSH YO' MOUF! (I'm only talkin' about The Reel Deal!) Email him at ReelReviewz@aol.com!
Edwardo Jackson is the author of the novels EVER AFTER and NEVA HAFTA, (Villard/Random House), a writer for UrbanFilmPremiere.com, and an LA-based screenwriter. Visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com
© 2004, Edwardo Jackson

© Copyright 2004

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