Starring: Marlon Wayans, Regina Hall, Dennis Haysbert, Loretta Devine, Scott Foley, Eliza Coupe, JT Jackson, Brian McKnight, Dave Sheridan, Minka Kelly
Directed By: Michael Tiddes
Plot: Rob (Wayans) is about to get married to the love of his life (Hall), despite the fact that her father (Haysbert) dislikes him so much that he invited her ex (Foley) to their wedding. He just isn’t an achiever with a strong set of goals. However, he’s about to learn a hard lesson when he wakes up naked in an elevator, and keeps repeating the same hour over and over. Will the madness ever end? Only if he gets it right.
What Works: While I didn’t think all of the jokes landed, I do have to commend Wayans’ undying commitment to the jokes and this film. First off, he is naked for a good chunk of the film. While we never see full frontal, we see everything else, and he spends a solid 15-20 minutes in some form of complete or almost complete nude. The script also asks him to do some ridiculous things, and he goes after each one, smiling and fully committed, like a mid-90’s Jim Carrey. So, I definitely applaud him. I also thought Regina Hall was really good as his love interest. These two go way back, and you can actually feel that connection in each frame. They have a real palpable connection which helps lift the film in some scenes. I have to even give props to Wayans for bringing along Dave Sheridan, and making it a mini-Scary Movie reunion. And I have to say, I know Loretta Devine can sing, but DAMN GIRL. There are more than a few times where we cut to Devine’s character belting out some negro spiritual in church, and she’s still got it. Not always would something like this throw favor from me to a film, but in this case, I can’t deny how freaking good she was.
What Doesn’t Work: Probably about half of the jokes don’t really land. For me, they were either too stupid, slapstick, or just didn’t make any sense at all. This film asks us to take a huge leap of faith with the repeating time measure, and figures that because Groundhog Day never really explained the “how” of it all, that they also don’t have to explain it. We never really learn why Rob is forced to repeat this last hour. Also, the “villian’s” motive for trying to ruin Rob’s wedding is so shitty, it actually kinda ruined the whole thing for me. I was like… wait… what? Really? It’s like the film really didn’t want it to be either of the obvious choices, so instead of trying to evolve and establish another choice, it came up with a half assed reason, and it just ends up not making any sense. Also, shame on Netflix for marketing this solely as a Marlon Wayans film. Regina Hall is starring in Girls Trip, which made over 100M this year at the box office, and she can’t get her name above the freaking title? And while I totally appreciate him as an actor, I have to call out Dennis Haysbert for phoning this thing in. It’s like he said “A Wayans film? Fuck it. Sure. Read the script? Nah.” His acting is so flat and boring it made me appreciate his damn Allstate commercials. He phoned it in so hard, it’s almost BAD acting. Almost. He walks a very thin line between giving a non-performance and a bad one.
Final Word: I actually didn’t expect much from this film. I honestly picked it because I wanted to see something, and I needed a film under 90 minutes. Naked delivered some laughs, and has a few good things going for it. However, it’s incredibly uneven and most of the jokes don’t land, and the ending is kinda lame. I can’t really recommend you watch this, but I also don’t think it’s bad enough to stop you. It’s right in the middle. You choose.
Final Grade: C