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MALIBU'S MOST WANTED

SYNOPSIS:
Brad ‘B-Rad’ Glickman (Jamie Kennedy) is a rich Jewish boy from Malibu who talks and dresses like he's a black gangsta rapper. His father Bill (Ryan O'Neal) is running for Californian Governor but his chances of victory nosedive when media attention turns to his son's bizarre behaviour. Bill's campaign manager Tom Gibbons (Blair Underwood) arranges for Brad to be 'kidnapped' by black actors Sean (Taye Diggs) and P.J. (Anthony Anderson). With P.J.'s cousin Shondra (Regina Hall) part of the scam, Sean and P.J. are certain they can 'scare the black' out of Brad and help Gibbons revive Glickman Sr's political career in the process. Everything goes according to plan until Brad is kidnapped by a real gang. 


Review by Richard Kuipers:
With a title suggesting a teen gross-out comedy and no preview screenings for the media I was not expecting much from Malibu's Most Wanted. A twenty minute delay while the broken projector in cinema 5 at the Hoyts George St complex was repaired didn't do much for the confidence either. Luckily I did have one other audience member for company during the delay and this Sydney-style home boy kept me entertained with shouts of "yo bitch, fix the projector" during the wait. 

His pre-show routine served as a lively warm-up for a film about a rich white boy who is so neglected by his parents that he adopts a black rapper persona. In what could be broadly described as a lighthearted spin on the issues explored so intelligently in James Toback's Black and White (2000), Malibu's Most Wanted is a fairly amusing satire on bourgeois white folk wanting to get on down with the ghetto dogs 'cos that's where it's 'real'. Jamie Kennedy is appealing as Malibu's answer to Ali G and there are plenty of laughs in the early scenes in which he describes how hard-core his neighbourhood really is. "We got bag-ladies here" he says while we see rich women carrying Chanel shopping bags around a ritzy shopping mall Brad calls "my ghetto." His home crew trade insults like "your momma's so ugly she's only been married once". 

Rather than go in hard on the subject and risk being compared unfavourably with the Eminem-starrer 8 Mile, Malibu's Most Wanted sticks to sitcom situations and trades almost solely on the clowning of Kennedy who originally created the B-Rad character for TV. On the sidelines it scores a few political points through the scheming behaviour of O'Neal's campaign team and the Diggs/Anderson duo are enjoyable as prissy stage 'ac-tors' who may as well be white for all they know about life in the ghetto. Ryan O'Neal, who deserves a Burt Reynolds-like career revival, is also very good in the straight role of Brad's errant father. Just for the record, Bo Derek also appears briefly as O'Neal's wife. Malibu's Most Wanted is funny when it has something to say about the way our perceptions of black gangsta life are so heavily manipulated by mass media that is determined to maintain white society's fear of black culture. When it plays it safe, the pacing drags and the gaps between laughs are much longer. I left this film with the impression that it just missed out on hitting the bullseye. More comic bravery and less goofing around might have made it really special. As it stands, it's a hit and miss effort with the balance just in favour of the hits.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

MALIBU'S MOST WANTED (M)
(US)

CAST: Jamie Kennedy, Taye Diggs, Anthony Anderson, Regina Hall, Blair Underwood, Damien Wayans, Ryan O'Neal, Bo Derek, Jeffrey Tambor

PRODUCER: Fax Bahr, Mike Karz. Adam Small

DIRECTOR: John Whitesell

SCRIPT: Fax Bahr, Adam Small, Jamie Kennedy, Nick Swardson

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Irwin

EDITOR: Cara Silverman

MUSIC: Damon Elliott, John Van Tongeren (John Debney - themes)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: William A. Elliott

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 24, 2003







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