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

Underclassman

Illustration for article titled Underclassman

Crimes:

  • Simultaneously ripping off Beverly Hills Cop and 21 Jump Street for a generation that knows Eddie Murphy largely as the donkey from Shrek and Johnny Depp as a pirate
  • Littering the film with such stock cop-movie characters as the tough-but-loving captain/father figure and the dead biological father whose heroic legacy in law enforcement casts a long shadow
  • Greasing the gears of the perfunctory action-thriller plot with lots of exposition

Defenders: Director Marcos Siega, co-writers Brent Goldberg and David T. Wagner

Tone of commentary: Giggly, self-deprecating, tongue-in-cheek. Goldberg and Wagner spend nearly as much time discussing scenes they wrote but couldn't afford to shoot as they do scenes that made it into the movie. Siega at one point even threatens to release a "director's cut" with half an hour of excised footage. Sadly, he isn't joking. The writers, who also penned Van Wilder, talk extensively about their other work, but for some reason never get around to mentioning My Baby's Daddy or the Olsen twins vehicle Holiday In The Sun.

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What went wrong: The budget was slashed from $30 million to $20 million. The film sat on a shelf for years and was heavily re-edited.

Comments on the cast: Richard "Cheech" Marin is hailed as a "great dramatic actor." Star Nick Cannon—whose ad-libs are praised but whose basketball playing is mocked—set the project in motion when the screenwriters gave him their pitch for the movie—Beverly Hills Cop in high school, essentially—and he blessed them with a Paris Hilton-like benediction: "That's hot."

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Inevitable dash of pretension: One of the screenwriters wearily complains that the "nuances" of the script "started to fall apart" once they were forced to rewrite to accommodate their smaller budget.

Commentary in a nutshell: Reflecting on his screenwriters' penchant for broad comedy, Siega notes that he's surprised there isn't "a 600-pound gorilla trying to ass-rape Nick" during a prison scene.

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