If writing movie reviews at the airport is my favorite circumstances, my second favorite might be traveling on a train through Europe. I am now on my way to Brussels from Amsterdam, and what better time to consider one of the Wayans' brothers contributions to world culture, White Chicks. I actually vaguely wanted to see this since it came out, since the idea of black men making fun of uptight white women sounded funny. This movie got awful reviews when it was out, saying it was dumb and juvenile, one of those times you want to say "Hi, um, did you know you were watching a movie by the Wayans brothers called White Chicks?" It ain't gonna be Anna Karenina.
We open in a bodega with these two outrageous charicatures of Puerto Ricans that we soon realize are the Wayans' in disguise. These thuggy-lookin' guys come in saying they have the vanilla ice cream [i.e. the cocaine], and after some amusing mugging as Puerto Ricans, the Wayans' beat the guys up. Then--you'll never believe this--the REAL drug dealer comes is, and they realize that they beat up the real ice cream man! Oh boy, is that funny. Looking back now, isn't it kind of incredible that there was a time, say around the time of Beverly Hills Cop, where this stuff was kind of new? This one here is indeed followed by the scene in which their police supervisor threatens to take their badges.
So then Marcus, played by Marlon Wayans, goes home to his wife, who is comically obsessed that he's cheating. He is 8 minutes late from work, and she says she checked MapQuest and it should only take 6 minutes, so he should just admit he has a woman on the side. Back at work, they are put on the socialite kidnapping case, and have to pick up these two blonde sisters who the FBI believes will be kidnapped that weekend. On the way back, they have a minor car accident, which causes the women to have tiny cuts on their face, meaning they couldn't possibly go to the Hamptons. Well, there's only one solution, right? Obviously the guys have to don extensive makeup and costumes and pretend to be the women for the weekend, right? I mean, that really is the most logical alternative.
Okay, so it may be the thinnest pretext for dressing in drag, like, ever, but I'm happy just to get it over with and get to the amusement. They meet the friends of the blondes--who I'm going to guess are based on the Olsen twins--and who are fooled by the disguises, and sudden changes in heights, of their "friends." There are also the requisite snotty bitches and suchlike. There's a lot of girl squealing and obsession over looks, as well as eagerness to undergo drastic plastic surgery in order to remain attractive.
To me it was vaguely amusing while not providing much for me to remember and write down. I did like the part where the girls squeal over their "jam," which is that horrifying song with all the piano that goes "I would walk a thousand miles if I could just see you... smile." I'll have to look up what it was [it's "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton]. I was laughing at that because... it IS such a horrible, white girl song. Then they're trying on clothes and having trouble fitting their big bodies into tiny women's clothes, and Marcus' jealous wife calls and overhears as the saleswoman says things like "I'll hold it open while you put it in." That night they have a "slumber party" where they all read magazines and are supposed to show their dildo technique--which of course the guys balk at--and at one point one of the other women says "Look at these starving kinds in Africa. I look at them and I just want to cry. I mean, I could never be that skinny," and another replies "Yeah, but they could never wear belly rings with those bloated tummies."
Meanwhile, there's this pro football player named Latrell played by Terry Crews, who turns out to be far and away the best thing in the movie. He falls for Marcus as his female incarnation [as required by the rules of cross-dressing comedies as imposed by the undisputed leader of the form, Some Like It Hot]. He just throws himself into it with such lusty gusto he's a hoot and the only thing here you won't be slightly embarassed to watch. He's also got a blockbuster body, which the movie is generous enough to display.
The rules as imposed by Some Like It Hot also dictate that the other brother, Kevin, be really falling for this reporter, Denise, but unable to tell her that he's really a man. And here is where we have the biggest laugh of the movie, which, as it happens, in unintentional. They're talking about how far she's prepared to go to break a story and Kevin mentions all the stuff she did to "find J.Lo and Ben's secret hideaway," [that's how old this movie is] and she responds: "I can't help it! Investigative journalism is my passion!"
Oh my dear, I had to pause the movie and just laugh about that for a while.
But what about homophobia, you ask? Surely we can't have an African-American comedy about cross-dressing without some homophobia, right? And this offers an interesting example of when a joke is okay, and when it becomes homophobic. There are these other two detectives--I can't even go into it--and they end up in the guys' room. One of them picks up one of the guys' panties and sniffs and licks them--THEN finds out that they've been worn by a man, and is freaked out. That much I can take without a problem, but where it crosses the line is when the other detective makes the wholly unnecessary comment: "Wow, you really are disgusting." We have a pale repeat of this when the jealous wife shows up and finds out the woman she thinks her husband is having an affair with is a man and responds "You're sick." You know, sure homosexuality isn't everyone's thing, I understand that, but you don't need to have to make editorial comments that it is "sick" and "disgusting." Especially since the screenplay wouldn't have suffered at all for these lines' omission.
The movie winds up precisely as you'd expect--you could work out the entire story arc from the title alone--but just a few more things to mention. One, the movie makes the serious error of having a villain who looks exactly [no, I mean EXACTLY] like a separate minor character who is good. That's just carelessness. And then--well, you really never know where that random Carrie reference will show up, do you? I hope it makes Brian De Palma happy that his movie made such a deep cultural impression.
And then there's ye olde depression that the satire isn't sharp enough. I mean, I was into the whole thing of black guys making fun of uptight white girl's horrible saccharine music and obsession with appearance, but you know me, I always want it more vicious. And then of course we have to come to realize that the women are all really sensitive and good people and they learn valuable lessons.
But like I said, you get what you pay for when you watch a movie called White Chicks by the Wayans Brothers.
Depends how bored you are, right? But you'd have to be pretty bored, or perhaps held as some sort of hostage.