BIASES: The Wayanses are an acquired taste but the buzz is
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
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
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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