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White Chicks

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: White Chicks

Starring: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: June 2004
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Brittany Daniel, Rochelle Aytes, Michael Teigen, John Henry Reardon, Suzy Joachim, John Heard, Frankie Faison, Terry Crews, Faune A. Chambers

Review by Harvey Karten
3 stars out of 4

No one will confuse anything with the Wayans brothers with Oscar Wilde's comedy, "The Importance of Being Earnest," but there is at least one thing Keenen Ivory Wayans's new movie has in common with Shakespeare: mistaken identity. For the online critic who said that drag movies are "so three seasons ago," let him realize that themes bearing identity reverals will hopefully never go out of style as long as women are from Venus and men are from Mars.

In "White Chicks," scripted by six writers (though a good deal of the "writing" by the Wayanses is probably some fine ad-libs), two down-at-the-heels FBI agents, possibly the dumbest in a department whose "intelligence" reporting has come under U.S. scrutiny these days, prove that when the smoke clears they're the smartest and even the most sentimentally romantic duo on the force.

Though "White Chicks" plays like a series of Saturday Night Live skits, there is a story-line, however flimsy. When Agents Marcus Copeland (Marlon Wayans) and Shawn Wayans (Kevin Copeland) are directed to baby-sit a couple of spoiled brats about to attend an East Hampton society bash, they have to improvise as the young blonde women, having received superficial cuts on their face, decide to sit this one out and not attend. How to capture the kidnappers? Not so simple. Marcus and Kevin go to the party in drag, each outfitted with a latex mask that makes the duo look like a pair of older women who have just received a botox job and then some at a place like the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital. Their get-up leads to a series of adventures which, vulgar and sophomoric though they may be are well-positioned for audience laughs.

The plot never drags, from the time the two open the story with what looks like the stupidest duo of dancing luncheonette owners but turns out to be the F.B.I agents who are masked to trap a trio of drug pushers. Their failure to identify the culprits matches the inability of the bad guys to recognize the agents. From then on, director Keenen Ivory Wayans pushes the physical comedy without a halt.

Sure, there's not much "character development," but since we're not dealing with a play by Oscar Wilde or even a witty script by Neil Simon, we've got to judge the movie by the laughs–and laughs there are in abundance. Particularly amusing, however three-seasons-ago in motif, is the attempt by an NBA player (Terry Crews) at a Hamptons reception to buy a date with the woman of his dreams not realizing that the white chick he wants for a trophy is actually Marcus–who tries in every way to turn the muscular guy off by eating like a pig in a fancy restaurant but succeeds only in making the big lug care for him even more.

The story features an inspired dance competition between "Tiffany" and "Brittany" (actually Marlon and Shawn Wayans) and their rivals, Heather (Jaime King and Megan Vandergeld (Brittany Daniel) ending by having our heroes break-dance like there's no tomorrow.

Director Wayans seamlessly weaves some sub-plots into the movie, such as Kevin's attempt to make a hit with a news reporter, Denise (Rochelle Aytes) and Marlon's comic attempts to prove to his wife that he's not cheating despite the female voices transported over the phone.

Marcus's wife at one point wishes aloud that men could somehow creep into the skin (psychologically) of women to know what makes the fair sex tick. Marcus and Kevin get the chance to do just that and, notwithstanding the obligatory bathroom humor, all designed to keep the story within the PG- 13 guidelines, they learn just a little that makes them think, in a reversal of Lerner and Loew's Professor Henry Higgins, that perhaps a man should be more like a woman.

Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten

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