Malibu’s Most Wanted was a pretty good movie when it starred Seth Green and was a tertiary subplot in the 1998 teen comedy Can’t Hardly Wait. It’s barely passable now that it stars Jamie Kennedy as a rich white kid acting black who spends all his time convincing the haters that he really is keeping it real.
Based on a character Kennedy created for his little-seen TV show, “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” Malibu also stars Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson as a pair of classically trained actors who are hired by gubernatorial candidate Bill Gluckman (Ryan O’Neal) to scare his son Brad (Kennedy) out of his Sean Johns. The pair kidnap B-Rad, as he likes to be called while spouting off weak rhymes with all the skill of Vanilla Ice, and drag him to South Central for a staged ghetto intervention meant to force Brad into admitting that his whole persona is a pathetic lie. Naturally Brad’s black soul (which, of course, is OK for him to have, since his lifelong nanny commiserates with him about the plight of “their” people over a plate of soul food, thus validating his Escalade parking ticket) proves a bit harder to snuff out than his captors (who are having their own struggles with their racial identities) had hoped. Pretty soon Brad is hitting the sista booty and joining a gang, just like all well-mannered wiggers from out West.
Making a successful, funny, black-white comedy based on popularly held stereotypes these days is akin to wringing blood from a stone. How many times does Hollywood have to shove a hitch-stepped, gat-toting, white-boy wannabe (or any variation thereof — see Bringing Down the House and Down to Earth, section D, paragraph VII) down our throats before the town figures out that it’s a dish more done than Michael Jackson’s nose?
Just about the only pure moment in Malibu happens when Brad — totally irony-free — says he learned to shoot semis from watching BET. Hip-hop and gangsta culture are so pervasive in today’s America that poking fun at the lines that divide black and white is a waste of time. Very few are willing to pay $8.50 to see a blond-haired, blue-eyed thug-baby try to prove he’s worthy of wearing big kid pants — unless he’s from Detroit and his name is Marshall. Maybe Kennedy should change his name for the sequel.
Erin Podolsky writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.