Malibu's Most Wanted (2003) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual humor, language and violence
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: Jamie Kennedy, Ryan O'Neal, Taye Diggs, Anthony Anderson, Blair Underwood, Regina Hall
Director: John Whitesell
Screenplay: Fax Bahr, Adam Small, Jamie Kennedy, Nick Swardson
Review published April 29, 2003
What happens when you have a fifteen minute skit stretched out into full length form? About fifteen minutes of funny material and a whole lot of filler. You'd also have MALIBU'S MOST WANTED, which may have been one of the funnier bits when it played out on "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" on the WB, but just doesn't quite have the juice to sustain a full-length feature.
Jamie plays Brad Gluckman, aka B-Rad, as his self-imposed street name goes, the son of a wealthy California gubernatorial candidate. The race is close, and B-Rad is an embarrassment to his father's image, a white hip hop aficionado who tries his very best to model his life after the hip hop stars he idolizes, spitting his own game and rolling with his own posse of posh Malibu kids like him. Everyone else sees him as just a wanna-be poser, so Daddy agrees to a plan that would "whitewash" his son to act more like the white kid he's supposed to be. They hire a couple of African-American thespians to pretend they are from the hood and kidnap Brad, and the plan is for B-Rad to get a real taste of the gangsta lifestyle in the hopes he will be just afraid enough to show his "true colors".
Although mostly irritating, I have to give MALIBU'S MOST WANTED credit for being sporadically funny from time to time. The film is written by the same creative quartet that work on Jamie's television show, so they know the character inside and out, and how much you find funny will also greatly depend on whether or not you know white kids like Brad Gluckman yourself, the well-off white kid who wants so desperately to be down with the hip hop lifestyle.
It's a film which pushes forward stereotypical characters, but also breaks many stereotypes as well, showcasing African-Americans as something more than they are usually given credit for in films like this. There is also quite a bit of good pop culture thrown in the mix, and satirical knocks on how kids pick up things from video games and music, such as when B-Rad tears up a neighborhood with his gats, and credits Grand Theft Auto III for giving him the skillz.
All-in-all, this is a very mixed bag of a film, and really comes down to personal taste as to whether or not you want to give it a shot. If you are a huge fan of Jamie Kennedy's show, you probably are of the type that would enjoy it for the most part. However, most viewers' tolerance will wear as thin as the material, as there's five minutes of silence for every chuckle earned, and in the world of screwball comedy, that's not really ratio one should boast. Like the TV show, MALIBU'S MOST WANTED's title should have also been called "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment", as it definitely feels more like a test run than a fully realized creation.
©2003 Vince Leo