Malibu’s Most Wanted

Starring: Jamie Kennedy, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Taye Diggs, Blair Underwood, Ryan O’Neal, Damien Dante Wayans, Bo Derek, Kal Penn, Nick Swardson, Jeffrey Tambor, Greg Grunberg, Terry Crews, Mike Epps
Directed By: John Whitesell

Plot: B-Rad (Kennedy) is a wannabe rapper growing up privileged in Malibu, whose dad is running for Governor. His appearance is tanking his dad’s (O’Neal) run, so his campaign manager (Underwood) concocts a scheme where B-Rad gets carjacked and spends some time in the real hood in order to “scare the black out of him”. He hires two actors (Anderson, Diggs) who have never been in the hood themselves to carry out the task. Hilarity ensues.

What Works: I don’t know what possessed me to watch Malibu’s Most Wanted again. Yes, this is my second viewing of this film. I saw it once when it came out, and I remember kinda liking it. On second viewing, this movie definitely shows its age, and I wasn’t as impressed with it. That being said, as far as Jamie Kennedy movies go, or Jamie Kennedy performances, this is definitely one of his best. I did laugh a few times, still, and Kennedy is definitely committed to his role. I didn’t hate anyone in the supporting cast, and thought they all performed as expected in their roles. Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson were funnier as “serious actors” than as “pretend gang members”. I really believed that Ryan O’Neal tried to imagine what it would be like to have Jamie Kennedy as his son. It’s not a smart film, but it still somehow manages some slight social commentary, and manages to be mildly entertaining. I literally can’t believe I’m reviewing this film right now.

What Doesn’t Work: This film has a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I feel like that’s totally fair. It’s a dumb film with some decent jokes. It’s one of those films that you might like, but never admit to liking. It’s also full of borderline racist jokes, or some just flat out racist jokes. When Kal Penn, the token Arab character, pulls a rocket launcher out that he got from his uncle as a Christmas present, I cringed. There’s no chemistry between B-Rad and Shondra (Hall), and them ending up together is just stupid. She’s portrayed as a smart person, yet she ends up with B-Rad? How badly did she want out of the hood? He’s not really romantic or anything toward her. He basically just tells her she’s beautiful, and that’s all it takes. Have some standards, girl. And despite that B-Rad is the son of the guy running for Governor, no one recognizes him in the “White Kong” footage? No one? That’s just one of those things that only exists in plot only, but makes no sense in reality.

Final Word: Again, I liked this more the first time around, so this is more of a review saying that it didn’t hold up over time (this film is 13 years old now), and I didn’t like it as much the second time around. I don’t think it’s an awful film, but it is a bit groan worthy. It does still have a few good laughs, and an incredibly committed performance from Kennedy. I am glad that Kal Penn has been able to move past these incredibly degrading performances into actual roles with meat, where he’s not playing a racist stereotype.

Final Grade: C

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