Marshall Mathers Malady
If there's one guilty pleasure worth admitting to watching on TV, aside from Married By America, it's the WB's stupid hidden-camera show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. Helmed by Kennedy, that slightly annoying kid from Scream who delivered "the rules of scary movies" to his ill-fated co-stars and the audience, the show revolves around its headliner dressing up in funny costumes and donning silly accents to play pranks on unwitting strangers. And, while the basic premise of the show is tired and dumb, Kennedy occasionally shows real comic flair as he develops different characters for each skit, some memorable enough to become reoccurring fixtures on the show; it's a process not unlike the one comedians on Saturday Night Live endure. Now, in Malibu's Most Wanted, the young comedian continues his unlikely winning streak with an equally ridiculous, but irresistible, racial farce.
As the star and chief writer of Malibu's Most Wanted, Kennedy is writ large here, delivering the same hit-and-miss antics that regularly crop on his TV show. Playing the affluent son of a California senator who dreams of being a rapper, the running joke here is Kennedy himself-a white kid who "acts black." The idiot version of Eminem, sans the street cred and rapping skills, Brad Gluckman (or B-Rad as he demands to be called) is a gem of a character. Hopelessly naïve and well-intentioned, he wanders around Malibu dishing out horrible rhymes and uttering words like "shiznit."
Equally out of place on the home front as he is in the local 'hood, Brad is immediately a media concern for the team heading up his dad's campaign. When the not-so-prodigal son attempts to help on the campaign trail (he addresses a sign appearing before a California women's group to the "bitches and hoes"), the staffers agree he's got to go. So, in an attempt to "scare the black out of him," the scheming young Republicans (headed up by Blair Underwood) hire two actors to carjack Brad and take him on a tour of the real ghetto. As the two uptight thespians called in for the job, Anthony Anderson and Taye Diggs are forced to pull off the hardest acting job of their life: to "act black."
With its constant play on racial stereotypes, Malibu's Most Wanted is full of characters who are supposedly too white, or black, for their own good. But, unlike the recent Bringing Down the House which played the race card in an offensive and unamusing manner, Kennedy's film is consistently enjoyable and, more importantly, well-intentioned. While Kennedy himself can be a bit irksome with his high-pitched ghetto speak, the invention of Brad Gluckman is repeatedly amusing. From the flashback to his hip-hop Bar Mitzvah (complete with attendees donning Flavor Flav-inspired clocks around their necks) to his embarrassing appearance at an open mic hip-hop showdown, B-Rad draws almost as many chuckles as Eminem's Bunny Rabbit drew dramatic winces. And, with a strong cast that also features appearances from Bo Derek and Snoop Dogg (as a talking rat), the ensemble here is strong. With the dearth of funny movies playing at theaters right now, Malibu's Most Wanted is your best bet to draw some laughs, shocking as that may sound.
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