Thursday, April 21, 2005

King's Ransom

King's Ransom (Director: Jeff Byrd)

Byrd has a few films, none of which you've heard. His previous experience is mostly with "making-of" docs.

Earlier this week, I reviewed The Interpreter and I said it sort of raised the bar in an awful year. Well, say hello to a movie that lowers the low bar to such an extreme depth, I can't imagine there being something worse. Of course, we do have one more Uwe Boll movie to look forward to this year, and his Alone in the Dark is already a head-to-head candidate with this movie. Here's a movie that probably had the idea of being some madcap, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World type of movie, and then the filmmakers, especially screenwriter Wayne Conley (previous experience: "Kenan and Kel," and "The Nick Cannon Show") and director Byrd, got lazy.

Entrepreneur Malcolm King (Anthony Anderson) is facing a divorce and a potential buyout of his company. Along the way, he pisses off his soon-to-be ex-wife Renee (the hot "Bernie Mac Show" wife, Kellita Smith), VP hopeful-and-stays-that-way Angela (Nicole Parker), and down-on-his-luck super-loser Corey (Jay Mohr). All parties involved, including Ransom himself, concoct a kidnapping whereby they can make some serious cash. Renee hires her pool boy with whom she's having an affair (a guy who looks a lot like Roger R. Cross, "Curtis" from "24." The IMDB does not have information for this character, so I can't tell who played this character at this moment--hell, I guess it could be Cross for all I know), Angela gets together with two other female co-workers (Leila Arcieri, Brooke D'Orsay), Corey goes it alone, and Anderson hires her bimbo secretary Peaches' (Regina Hall) brother Herb (Charlie Murphy), who has just gotten out of jail.

There is a sequence where all parties involved kidnap King and then lose him, and I sort of felt like the movie should have just kept it on that level. King, not knowing what Herb looks like, has a sort of Man Who Knew Too Little thing going for awhile, thinking all the kidnappers are in on the plot, never thinking he's actually being kidnapped. Herb actually kidnaps the wrong person in Andre (Donald Faison of "Scrubs"), who tries to impress a girl he likes by saying he's Malcolm King. Once Corey kidnaps King, none of the other would-be kidnappers matter, and any time the movie goes back to those kidnappers, it's completely worthless. They have no idea where King is, and are rendered meaningless.

Embarrassing performances abound here. Everyone apparently has been told that this is a "madcap comedy" and are playing it as such, but they will not be pleased when they see the results. Jay Mohr has gone from Jerry Maguire in 1996 to Are We There Yet? and this horrid flick in 2005. Loretta Devine, playing King's top secretary Miss Gladys, was hired especially to be the black lady with attitude--that apparently is the scope of her abilities, because that's all I ever see her do, and she has one of the most contrived lines in the whole picture, talking to cops and saying, "I'm gonna' stay on white girls on NBA players!" Then you have beautiful Kellita Smith spouting one of the most tired forms of gags, the guy-can't-last-too-long-in-bed cutdown, "Just like sex with you after two minutes...this conversation is over."

I get the sense, and maybe I'm wrong, that black people want to show their true talent in film. And maybe it's hard to get a complex black-themed film on the market--although that may change after the so-so, but successful, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. But when you see a movie put a black man in a position such as King, you'd hope for a lot more intelligence. There's no way a man like King is worth millions of dollars, unless he inherited it. He's just the beginning of the poorly-conceived characters in this flick.

If you hadn't already planned to stay away from this, then here's your chance.


At 4/21/2005 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

After seeing the preview to this movie, I immediately started making my Oscar predictions. I figured Anthony Anderson would finally be respected and getting that much deserved Oscar after being passed over for such fine work as "Agent Cody Banks 2" and "Baby's Daddy." And I figured the film itself would join the comedy pantheon of Oscar winners such as "The Apartment" and "The Sting." But alas, judging from this review, I guess I was sorely mistaken. You gotta love sarcasm.


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