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WHITE CHICKS
Unrated

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Jaime King, Frankie Faison, Lochlyn Munro, John Heard
Director: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: October 26, 2004

"You know what they say; once you go black…you'll need a wheelchair."

Film **

When watching a movie like White Chicks, the first thing that comes to mind is the expression "a little bit goes a long way". To me, that's about the most perfect way you can sum up the premise of this latest comedy offering from seasoned pros the Wayans Brothers. It tries to make the most of a plot idea where the element of suspending disbelief is curiously challenged.

When I say the Wayans are seasoned pros, I mean every word of it. Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans have collaborated on much superior efforts like Don't Be a Menace to South Central and Scary Movie. Re-teaming with older brother, and Scary Movie director, Keenan Ivory Wayans, the funny duo have made a film with momentary good laughs, but with a lame-brained plot that feels more complicated than it needs to be.

Shawn and Marlon play undercover feds Kevin and Miles Copeland, who are your basic law enforcement screw ups. With every case they are given, the two go outside the zone, as it's phrased, to nab the crooks through deep undercover…literally. Through elaborate disguises, they attempt to nab any wanted felon. The opening scene has the two disguised as Cuban store clerks while trying to catch a drug supplier.

With their boss, Chief Gordon (Frankie Faison), one step away from kicking them off the force, Kevin and Marcus see their chance opportunity to redeem themselves with a new assignment. The task involves guarding ultra rich hotel heiresses the Wilson sisters (no quick guesses needed as to who exactly the movie is spoofing here) who have been threatened with a possible kidnapping.

Following a minor car accident, leaving the sisters unharmed but too embarrassed to be seen at a big party event in the Hamptons, the two agents come up with a last minute plan. Undergoing their usual makeup job to acquire disguises, Kevin and Marcus are given the latex mask treatment and decide to attend the gathering in drag, hoping that it just might lure the alleged kidnappers.

What follows in White Chicks can pretty much be foreseen by anyone who's seen Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire or Big Momma's House. It basically consists of the two agents convincing everyone they come across that they're the sisters. And although the make up job, especially on Marlon Wayans, is hysterical to look at, is it not possible to suspect that the very people who know who these girls, particularly their close knit girlfriends, will notice a vital difference in the facial area alone?

Never mind, I mentioned the movie does offer laughs, and they mostly involve a supporting character named Latrell Spencer (former NFL player Terry Crews). Latrell is a pro athlete embroiled in media scandals, mostly because of his fetish for young white girls. When he lays his sights on Marcus in disguise, the laughs are nearly non stop at this point. A visual gag involving Latrell's accidental ingesting of ecstasy results in a big laugh out loud moment.

Moments like that save White Chicks from being a truly worse movie. The movie has some additional gags, but simply not enough. And at times, some jokes aren't as successful. Case in point, the scene where the agents' cover is discovered by Marcus' wife is a moment stolen straight out of Bad Boys, where it was a whole lot funnier. And although I wasn't expecting to be enthralled by whatever action/suspense was offered, the final standoff, where in which the kidnapper's identity is revealed, has to be one of the more poorly written and executed scenes I've seen recently.

To say whether or not White Chicks had any sort of potential is questionable. You can do a limited number of things with a premise that has been used so many times. I give the Wayans' credit, but if you want bigger laughs, watch Mrs. Doubtfire or The Nutty Professor instead.

Video ****

No complaints about the video handling. Columbia Tri Star deliver their unquestionable, and usual, best with this superb looking presentation. The anamorphic video consists of nothing but bright and clear imagery, making the Hamptons set look quite engaging. No image flaws of any sort detected. Hands down, a strong and superior job.

Audio ***1/2

Although the movie is a comedy, the 5.1 does elevate this presentation above expectations. Dialogue delivery is downright clear and perfect as can be. Momentary action, like the opening shootout in the store, and sequences involving music, including a big dance club scene, deliver some incredible and dynamically leveled sound. A nice surprise.

Features ***

This Uncut and Unrated Edition of the movie includes, for starters, six additional minutes of newly added footage, as well as a Wayans Brothers commentary, three featurettes; "How'd They Do That" takes a look at the work that went into the make up effects, "A Wayans Comedy" covers the creative process amongst the brothers, and there's an Encore On the Set featurette to round them out, lastly, there is a trailer gallery, featuring this and a number of upcoming and available CTS releases, including a trailer for the upcoming Will Smith comedy, Hitch.

Summary:

Though not entirely laugh free, White Chicks simply doesn't begin to compare with previous Wayans comedies. Had their been more concentration on laughs and less focus of the tired kidnapping plot scenario, since this is a screwball comedy, there just might have been something.

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