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Malibu's Most Wanted
2003 - PG-13 - 78 Mins.
Director: John Whitesell
Producer: Fax Bahr, Mike Karz, Adam Small
Written By: Fax Bahr, Adam Small
Starring: Jamie Kennedy, Taye Diggs, Anthony Anderson, Ryan O'Neal
Review by: John Ulmer
   
The idea behind "Malibu's Most Wanted" came from a television show starring Jamie Kennedy named, of all things, "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment"--and it shows. I'm a big fan of the show, and I'm starting to become a big fan of the actor, and so I was thrilled to hear he had his own movie based on the hilarious television show last year. I waited quite a while to see the movie even though I had heard bad things about it. Unfortunately, perhaps some of the charm behind his B-Rad character on the TV show was that he got candid responses from startled people--here the responses are all scripted, and they don't work half as well as they should.

On the television show, Kennedy dresses up as a various assortment of odd characters and goes around tormenting people in character. His most famous of characters, B-Rad (a white rapper based on Eminem), was a highlight of the TV show. Here the character is inserted into his own world and given a background.

It starts out with a voice-over narration by Brad Gluckman (Kennedy), a.k.a. B-Rad. He says that he lives in the rough turf of Miami. (We get an aerial shot of a huge mansion resort by the ocean. He informs us, "That's my crib. It ain't much, but it's all I gots.") B-Rad hangs out with a band of rich kids who try desperately--much like B-Rad himself--to be gangstas. Their insults to one another are typically, "Your momma so poor, her [breasts] are real!" They all have excessively nice clothing, vehicles, homes, gadgets, and so on, but like to pretend they've got it rougher than they really do. (In one of the better scenes, B-Rad informs us via voice-over that one of his crew, "even went to public for a while.")

B-Rad's father, Bill Gluckman (Ryan O'Neal) is running for governor of California. (Sound familiar?) His son is posing as a serious threat to his public image--at the unveiling of his new women's rights campaign, B-Rad reveals a sign that reads, "BILL GLUCKMAN'S DOWN WITH THE BITCHES AND HO'S!"--and so the campaign manager cooks up a crazy idea that might just work.

They hire two Juilliard-graduate black men to take B-Rad down into the ghetto, pose as gangsters, and "scare the white out of him." The two men, Sean (Anthony Anderson) and PJ (Taye Diggs) dress up with bling-bling and look through a book that reads, "A 2 Z Gangsta Slang." After becoming comfortable with their new dialogue, they kidnap B-Rad, take him to their house, and try to scare the white out of him. Not everything goes to plan.

"Malibu's Most Wanted" essentially has some funny scenes, but they are scattered. I laughed at the reference to "Training Day." I laughed when, after a violent shoot-out, a thug gangster asks B-Rad where he learned his shooting skills and he responds, "Grand Theft Auto III." I also laughed at the way B-Rad's gang like to trick themselves into thinking they have it real bad with their rich parents and nice lifestyes. I laughed at little else.

Surprising, really, because I loved the television so much and I have been looking forward to this, like I said above, for quite some time. I believe if they had put more effort into this film it would have been much better. If they had gotten a stronger director with a better sense of actual direction and consistency, made the script's humor aim more for irony of rich kids wanting to be rough thugs and how different they are (and this could have worked easily with a strong scriptwriter who finds a flair for the irony in situations), and found a talented cast to put alongside the scene-stealing Kennedy, this could have been one of the real treats of 2003. But it's not. The premise may sound stupid but if you really think about it, the plot is quite clever--given the right touch of irony and realisticness, it could have been a classic example of contrast film. But this movie trips down the rabbit hole and never returns--it eventually gets so wacky and goofy you just kind of give up all hope in the film.

"Malibu's Most Wanted" is a film that looked much better on paper--I should know, I read the script. It was laugh-out-loud funny. But when I watched the film, I realized that the jokes were handled poorly and the direction inept. It was a typical summer comedy--the cheap kind that have that cheap smell about them that reeks of nothing but money-making. Jamie Kennedy is a talented comedian with a very bright future ahead of him. He did not need this on his resume.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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