Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Malibu's Most Wanted

Illustration for article titled Malibus Most Wanted

The heyday of the minstrel show has long passed, but folks still seem to find it hilarious when goofy white people adopt exaggerated versions of hood slang, attitudes, and posturing. On the frequently hilarious HBO series Da Ali G Show, fearless chameleon Sacha Baron Cohen raises the wannabe B-boy shtick to an art form, but his show derives most of its laughs from the warped logic behind its host's surreal queries and the extreme discomfort of its stuffy guests. Where Cohen's Ali G persona elevates the playa-wannabe routine, Jamie Kennedy's inane Malibu's Most Wanted reduces it back to a stale gag. The film is a spin-off of Kennedy's Candid Camera-style comedy show The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, which raises the frightening prospect that the series may become a Saturday Night Live-like incubator for cheap-looking, opportunistic vehicles that stretch one thin joke way beyond its breaking point. The film resembles a sub-par SNL spin-off–think Superstar or A Night At The Roxbury–right down to its protagonist's oft-repeated catchphrase, "Don't be hatin'!" Directed, in the loosest sense imaginable, by See Spot Run auteur and sitcom veteran John Whitesell, Malibu casts Kennedy as the deluded son of politician Ryan O'Neal, whose gubernatorial campaign provides the film's few bright spots. Convinced that the good-hearted but naïve Kennedy will ruin his father's chances for victory, O'Neal's handlers arrange for Kennedy to be faux-kidnapped by prissy black thespians (Taye Diggs and Kangaroo Jack cut-up Anthony Anderson) impersonating hardened gangbangers, in the hope that a trip to the hood will scare Kennedy into accepting the inescapable whiteness of his being. The idea of highbrow black actors forced to portray regressive black stereotypes provided Robert Townsend's infinitely funnier Hollywood Shuffle with one of its most memorable bits, but it proves weak and tortured here. Malibu's screenplay inexplicably required the creative efforts of four screenwriters (including Kennedy), which works out to about half a funny gag apiece.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter