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All About the Benjamins

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: All About the Benjamins

Starring: Ice Cube, Mike Epps
Director: Kevin Bray
Rated: R
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: March 2002
Genres: Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Tommy Flanagan, Anthony Michael Hall, Eva Mendes, Valarie Rae Miller, Jodi Lyn, Anthony Giaimo, Carmen Chaplin, Roger Guenveur Smith

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows ---
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewvideo review
3.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

Beneath Miami's glitter the high-rise hotels, the babes in bikinis, the Lexus dealerships and yacht showrooms lies an underclass of people who exist in trailer parks watching Bugs Bunny cartoons in cabins decorated with Confederate flags and commission-only people doing dangerous jobs that get them into trouble with lowlife criminals and hassles with the police. All this is illustrated in Kevin Bray's "All About the Benjamins," co- written by and starring producer Ice Cube. But "All About the Benjamins" merely dabbles in sociological commentary. Its true import is a test of the chemistry between motormouth comic Mike Epps and Ice Cube in the traditional setup of straight-man and stooge: a convention that dates back at least to Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello. But since Ice Cube is hardly a dimwtited straight man we can compare "Benjamims" most closely with "Rush Hour," which pitted fasttalking Chris Tucker with fast-moving but straight- acting Jackie Chan. Released just one week before yet another buddy-movie parody, "Showtime," "All About the Benjamins" may offer nothing to new but is so fast-moving in the usual action-movie traditions displaying gorgeous girls, car chases, explosions and comic violence that only a churl can fault it for not showing more about its messages of race and class in America. Cube was better cast in Gary Gray's "Friday," however, which, although lacking a strong plot spread the word about underprivileged youth trying to survive in L.A.'s South Central 'hood.

Ice Cube performs in the role of Bucum Jackson, a bounty hunter who works for Martinez (Anthony Giaimo), getting ten percent of the put-up bail for each minor felon he captures (though the way the bounty system works could have used an explanation for those in the audience who've never had a cop look at them cross-eyed). Bearing the American dream of opening a private investigation firm, because "that's where the money is," he tangles with repeat offender Reggie (Michael Epps) who offers him something better than the chump change he's used to. Diamonds and lottery tickets form the glitter of this ethnic buddy comedy as Bucum and Reggie tangle with criminal intermediary Ramose (Roger Guenveur Smith) and big boss, Glasgow-born Tommy Flanagan in the role of yacht salesman Williamson.

As the obligatory girl friends of the young men, Eva Mendes as Gina (who looks a lot like Gina Gershon) and to a lesser extent Valarie Rae Miller as Pam bond well with the buddies and even display some feminist gumption to save the day near the film's conclusion. The sound track is a fiesta of rap, of course, and for a little extra class there's a portion of Giacomo Puccini's "In Quelle Trine Morbide" from Manon Lescaut.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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