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Malibu's Most Wanted

  Malibu's Most Wanted
That is really disturbing. Zebra and leopard print on the same bed?

© 2003, Warner Bros.
All Rights Reserved

Brad Gluckman (Jamie Kennedy) is a wannabe gangsta (his nickname is "B-Rad") from the notorious hood of Malibu, CA. B-Rad's father, Bill (Ryan O'Neal) is running for governor, and doesn't want his son to appear with him on the front pages of the papers. Bill's staff hatches a plan to get two classically trained African-American actors (Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson) to pose as gangsters to try and scare the hood out of B-Rad. Trouble is, B-Rad doesn't understand that the situation is a sham, and attempts to prove his street cred as they make their way through Los Angeles' more notorious suburbs.

The marketing won't say it, but "Malibu's Most Wanted" (IMDb listing) comes from a character Kennedy plays on his poorly rated, but uproarious hidden camera show on the WB, "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment." I think there are about 10 of us out there who've seen Kennedy run through this B-Rad shtick before, and it was always a highlight on the show. However, "Malibu" puts B-Rad out there front and center for 90 minutes of silver screen time, threatening to take this funny character miles away from entertaining. Thankfully, "Malibu" complements the character more than tires him out. The film isn't exactly on the cutting edge of today's satire (Sacha Baron Cohen, with his flat-out brilliant white boy gangsta character "Ali G,' has beaten B-Rad to the punch by a couple of years), but Kennedy and his screenwriters (including hysterical stand-up comedian Nick Swardson, who appears in the film as one of B-Rad's posse) still find ways to send up the current street-hop nation, all the while keeping the proceedings delightfully silly and buoyant.

The production gets a lot of mileage out of B-Rad's gangsta style, even going so far as to try and implement a new catchphrase with "Don't Be Hatin'." B-Rad's adventures also take him to a Korean grocery store, a rap battle straight from the set of "8 Mile," and a run in with a rat that sounds surprisingly like Snoop Dogg. The material has fun with the intermixing cultures theme, and never degenerates into distinctly hateful stereotypes like "Bringing Down The House" did. Though it won't win any NAACP awards, "Malibu" is a nice forward thrust toward the played-out gangsta/mall-kid culture that too many suburban kids subscribe to.

Since he's lived with the character for a couple of years now, Jamie Kennedy has the B-Rad moves down in every detail. This is a terribly funny performance, with Kennedy playing up B-Rad's blissful ignorance of how his privileged upbringing directly interferes with his urban dreams. It goes beyond simple caricature, with Kennedy avoiding making B-Rad into the butt of every joke. Counter Kennedy's performance with that of Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson. As the two "wanksters," the actors couldn't be more out of their realm. They try far too hard to make their material funny, and they lay on the "we are classically trained!" horn a little too long. Every time the film features these two actors, you can see it trying to be a comedy. But with Jamie Kennedy, the effort isn't nearly as noticeable.

You don't have to be a fan of "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" to fully enjoy "Malibu's Most Wanted." This is appealing satire, and it hits almost all the right notes.

Filmfodder Grade: B+

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