Screenwriter Paul Rudnick (Adams Family Values, In and Out) had an idea that could have made a funny seven-minute “Saturday Night Live” sketch — a culture clash between a pampered Jewish socialite and a “ghetto fabulous” rap star. But the shelf life of satire is rarely long enough to sustain a movie production schedule, and much of the material in this movie feels outdated already. Are we still making fun of boy bands? And how long has it been since Bill Gates was an eligible bachelor? The material here is so slight that it is not enough to sustain an entire movie, and the absence of any comic energy whatsoever in Richard Benjamin’s direction makes it seem endless even at a less than 90-minute running time.
Lisa Kudrow plays Marci Feld, the daughter of a mogul (played by director Benjamin) whose conglomerate includes a rap music label called Felony Assault. The explicit language on the latest release from its star performer, Dr. S (Damon Wayans) has offended the powerful Senator Spinkle (Christine Baranski), and she calls for a boycott that puts Feld’s entire corporation at risk. When he is hospitalized with a heart attack, Marci decides that she will go to see Dr. S and work things out.
Rudnick manages a couple of sassy comebacks, but ultimately is reduced to stealing from himself with a poor re-enactment of the best scene from In and Out. Many of the set-ups are painfully flat, especially a weird fund-raiser for a purportedly funny medical condition — lack of feeling in the arms, demonstrated by poking children with forks.
Kudrow’s offbeat line readings provide some punch and Paula Garces parodies J.Lo (in her Puff Daddy phase) with some spirit. But Wayans just sounds whiny and about as threatening as a daffodill.
Parents should know that the movie has exceptionally mature material, with strong language and explicit sexual references. There is some humor that may strike some audience members as insulting to homosexuals (though screenwriter Rudnick is gay). Characters drink and smoke marijuana and there are jokes about Valium and Prozac. The movie includes comic violence, including gun use. One positive note is the handling of the relationships between people from different races and religions.
Families who see this movie should talk about what it means to “keep it real” and about the current debate on the influence of explict sex and violence in lyrics.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the far better Undercover Brother.