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
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
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