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MALIBU'S MOST WANTED

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jamie Kennedy, Taye Diggs, Anthony Anderson, Blair Underwood, Regina Hall, Damien Dante Wayans, Ryan O’Neal, Snoop Dogg
Director: John Whitesell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 86 Minutes
Release Date: September 9, 2003

“I’m a lyricologist, I can rap about anything; Shrink, shrink. Blinkity-blink. Try to make me think. I wanna go to my sink, and vomit. Clean it up with Comet. Earth is my plon-et. See, I’m the shiznit!”

Film ***

When Eminem set out to make his cinematic debut in the highly acclaimed 8 Mile, he was probably praying to the almighty that something like Malibu’s Most Wanted never appear in the wake of his movie’s predicted success. The timing shouldn’t be judged as purely coincidental, because actor/comedian Jamie Kennedy has embodied this caricature for a while. If you’ve seen any of his supporting work in his earlier films, you may spot it. To sum it up rightly, this is no way a direct slap in the face of Marshall Mathers, but probably in the face of Robert Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice. The only difference between Vanilla and Kennedy’s character, B-Rad, is that the latter is an even worse rapper.

The movie is a drop-dead hilarious comedy that spoofs the notion that rap music may have affected white youth to the point where young rich white kids actually think they’re part of the hood. As the introduction by B-Rad explains, growing up in the streets of Malibu ain’t no joke. There be bag ladies (women with expensive handbags), big ballers (little league softball team), folks strapped with a 9 (golfers with 9 iron clubs), and worst of all, B-Rad’s personal ghetto, the mall, where sometimes the police won’t even come through. In a hilarious opening scene, B-Rad and his crew, who all did some hard time over in public school, strut into the mall looking like they’re ready to cause trouble, when in fact they’re there to pick up some aroma therapy candles and get their parking tickets validated.

The central storyline involves B-Rad, or umm, Brad and his father, Bill Gluckman (Ryan O’Neal), who’s running for Governor of California. The campaign is thwarted by B-Rad’s attempts to help his father win some votes, as in the case where at a rally to gain support from women voters, a banner unfolds behind the candidate reading, “Bill Gluckman is down with the Ho’s”. B-Rad is then suggested to see a psychologist, who then concludes that Brad may have the worst case of “gangstaphrenia” he’s ever seen. It is suggested that the kid grew into this as a result of his parents not being around him enough during his childhood. He heard his first rap song at the age of 3, and his love for hip hop was born on the spot.

Fearing that B-Rad will cost the entire election, Bill’s campaign manager, Gibbons (Blair Underwood), suggests something out of the ordinary. The plan is to orchestrate a fake kidnapping, one in which B-Rad will be held hostage by two vicious thugs, who will then give him a harsh look at what really goes on in the hood. The goal is to scare the kid white, acknowledging that he is nothing more than a poser, and at the same time saving his father’s election from embarrassing destruction.

To fulfill the duties of playing the kidnappers, Gibbons hires strait-laced actors Sean (Taye Diggs) and P.J. (Anthony Anderson), both fresh from the Julliard School and the Pasadena Playhouse. It will actually be a stretch for the two black actors, who know nothing about the hood and are no more thug-like than B-Rad is. To help ensure the plan goes down as smooth as it can, the two enlist the help of P.J.’s cousin, Shondra (Regina Hall). Her job is to persuade B-Rad through subtle seduction to come off and immediately admit he’s a fake, to which he replies, “Naw, I gotta P.H.D., a Poser Hater Degree.”

Jamie Kennedy, who shares screenwriting credit, is effortlessly funny as the shiznit-dubbed B-Rad. Kennedy, who’s had numerous supporting work in such films as Scream, Three Kings, Bowfinger and Boiler Room, displays tremendous comedic talent, proving he can indeed carry such a movie. He isn’t afraid to go completely over the top, which is appropriate for this kind of outrageous comedy

As far as the supporting cast is concerned, it’s the hilariously funny turns from Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson, who come across as sensitive white men trapped inside the bodies of two African-Americans. The scenes showing to two committed actors trying to get into character mode result in the biggest laughs of the movie, especially when Diggs’ character debates as to which of their characters should get to wear the corn rolls.

Malibu’s Most Wanted could’ve come across as a lightweight, one note comedy, much like the films adapted from the sketches on Saturday Night Live. Unlike those weak comedies, there is something of an true comedic premise here, as the script has a witty sense about the culture crisis supposedly displayed by white-wannabe rappers. Jamie Kennedy, along with his fellow screenwriters play off this notion bravely to create a much funny spoof comedy.

Video ****

Solid presentation from Warner, who for some reason decided to retreat to the old school technique of the double sided disc. Some studios still endorse this style every so often, but I was under the impression that Warner had forever ditched it. Nonetheless, the anamorphic picture is of the highest quality. I was expecting to see some flaws, given the format, but detected absolutely nothing of the sort. The picture is endlessly crisp and clear, along with superb natural colors to match. A full screen version is also available.

Audio ****

The movie spoofs hip hop music, but embraces it very much as it can be heard in almost every scene in the movie. The result is a dope 5.1 mix, which delivers its rap flava with strong digital audio power. The track also manages to make the most of numerous scenes of physical comedy, in addition to a couple of shootout scenes, which are played for a comedic effect. This is one happenin’ listen of a disc.

Features **1/2

I was kind of expecting more than what I got, but for the most part, the extras on the disc are satisfactory to a degree. Included is a commentary by Jamie Kennedy, Anthony Anderson, Regina Hall, director John Whitesell, and a few additional filmmakers. On the b side of the disc, there are 11 deleted scenes including an alternate ending, and a trailer.

Summary:

If you’re in strong need of a dose of slap-your-face-silly comedy, Malibu’s Most Wanted is the one to cure you. It’s non stop with the laughs, guaranteeing you a non-posing grin on your face. HOLLA!