Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Wayanses turn paler shade of unfunny

Special to The Seattle Times

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Boy, this movie stinks. I mean really stinks. It's an early candidate for worst movie of the year.

When I first heard the premise — black FBI agents going undercover as white debutantes in the Hamptons — I thought, well, if the makeup is done right, they might be able to say something interesting about race or gender or class in America. Barring that, maybe it'll be funny.

Except the makeup isn't done right. They don't have anything remotely interesting to say about race or gender or class in America. And the first 15 minutes were so bad I decided to count my laughs. That is, I decided to see if the movie could make me laugh even once. I'm happy to report it did. I laughed 1-½ times. In 105 minutes. You do the math.

Marlon and Shawn Wayans, the unfunniest of the Wayans brothers (no mean feat), play Marcus and Kevin Copeland, two gung-ho but hapless FBI agents forever in trouble with "the Chief" (Frankie Faison). After botching an undercover job, they are given the relatively easy assignment of driving two debutantes, the Wilson sisters (Anne Dudek and Maitland Ward), to the Hamptons. Supposedly the Wilson sisters are the targets of a kidnapper, and the FBI wants to flush him out.

En route there's a minor mishap, the Wilsons scratch nose and chin, and refuse to leave their hotel room. So, violating all protocol, the Copelands go undercover as the girls.

First, the makeup is way creepy. Not only do they not look like the Wilson sisters, they don't look human. They reminded me of midstage Hollywood transformation shots — the latex-laden guys between, say, man and werewolf, or Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

But let's suspend belief for a moment. Everyone believes they're the Wilson sisters and men find them attractive enough to hit on. OK. So what do the Wayans do with this racial/gender turnabout?

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer

No stars
"White Chicks," with Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Frankie Faison, John Heard. Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans, from a screenplay by Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Andrew McElfresh, Michael Anthony Snowden and Xavier Cook. 105 minutes. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some drug content. Several theaters.
Supercharged now, male inside female, black inside white, these faux Wilson sisters 1) win a dissing contest against their arch rivals, the Vandergeld sisters (Brittany Daniel and Jaime King); 2) win a dance-off against same; 3) say the n-word; 4) foil a purse snatcher; and 5) throw a football real hard. Oh, and since white people apparently listen to tinkly little tunes while black folks listen to something known as "rap," the girls help introduce this newfangled music to the Hamptons.

Subplots include Kevin's jealous, shrewish wife (Faune Chambers) tracking him down, and Marcus romancing a hot TV reporter (Rochelle Aytes). One of the lesser-connected Hamptons girls learns to respect herself. An athlete (Terry Crews) prowls the party scene and zeroes in on Kevin's alter-ego. Kevin, meanwhile, after being a woman, learns to be a better man. Of course this lesson makes no sense at all, since, really, he's not that bad a guy. It's his jealous, shrewish wife who needs to learn to be a better woman. But, what the hey, let's just cut-and-paste lessons from other movies into this one. Oh, and don't forget about the kidnapping subplot either, although, for long stretches, the movie seems to.

You know the saying about success having many fathers and failure being an orphan? Apparently not in Hollywood. Six — count 'em, six — screenwriters are attached to this horror show. Which means they can point fingers at each other over lines like Marcus romancing the hot TV reporter. He: "You did all that to find J.Lo and Ben's hideaway?" She: "Well, I just love investigative journalism."

A movie this bad should at least be under 100 minutes. They couldn't even get that right.

Erik Lundegaard:

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company


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