In 10 Words or Less
Black boys will be white girls
In order to actually watch this movie and not find yourself continually screaming out, you've got to just let go. This is not about suspending your disbelief. This is about retarding your intellect to the level of a stuffed animal. There are so many unbelievable moments and gaps in reality in this film that to attempt to follow the plot in an exercise in futility. One of the main conceits of the film is that, in make-up, Shawn and Marlon Wayan look exactly like the heiress Wilson sisters (an obvious parody of the infamous Hilton sisters.) In fact, the ending makes zero sense if you can't give in to this concept, and even the director questions if they made it work. The same questions apply to pretty much the rest of the movie as well.
The Wayans play Kevin and Marcus Coleman, disguise-happy FBI agents who are also major screw-ups. Because of this, they are given the assignment to babysit the Wilsons, who are being threatened with kidnapping, from the airport to the Hamptons. When they manage to screw up even this easy assignment, they decide to cover it up by disguising themselves as the heiresses, wearing the most elaborate tranny make-up ever seen in movies. Though it can't make the Wayans look like the Wilsons, the change to women is uncanny. And it's not just the make-up, as their mannerisms are enjoyable as well. As they try and live the Wilsons' lives, things get more out-of-hand, with a pair of competitive FBI agents following them and an NBA player interested in Brittany (Marlon.) The movie piles on the coincidences and complications, building a comedy of errors.
This is obviously a Wayans brothers flick, showcasing the younger members of the clan. While Shawn holds his own, Marlon is obviously the better actor, having honed his chops in movies not directed by his brother. When in make-up, their ability to channel the "real" Wilson sisters is excellent, right down to the bounce in their voices. Of course, I am solely praising his ability to make the comedy work, since any of their scenes involving emotion or plot, of which there are several shoehorned into the movie, fall extremely flat.
While the Wayans are the key to the film, the supporting cast gets plenty of action, especially the NBA star, Latrell Spencer (Terry Crews), a big, muscular black man with a taste for "white meat." His scenes, especially when in the car or at the club, get some of the biggest laughs of the film, if only because they are so uncomfortable or insane. The rest of the characters are one-dimensional stereotypes, including Brittany Daniels' (Joe Dirt) magazine heiress, Megan Vandergeld, and Busy Phillips' ("Freaks and Geeks") good-girl socialite Karen. Each has their moments, but they are mainly there to advance the awkward plot.
That plot, by the way, is pretty much unnecessary, and is usually on the back burner. The movie works better when poking fun at Hamptons culture and the Wilsons/Hiltons or throwing out zingers, than when trying to tell a story. A major example of this is a subplot involving Marcus' wife, who thinks he's having an affair, but it doesn't do much more than fill space. I actually had to check to make sure she wasn't a Wayans collecting a paycheck. Also, and I don't think I missed it, but an oft-mentioned part of the story involving who gets the cover of Hamptons Magazine, is simply forgotten.
This being the uncut version of the film, it has several changes from the movie shown in theaters. Having not seen the rated edition, I can't be certain about the differences, but based on Keenan Ivory Wayans' comments and the DVD's help (see The Extras), the biggest change is the addition of a scene involving a dildo. There is no nudity, though, so anyone who connects uncut with XXX, they will once again be disappointed. I've yet to see an uncut edition include more nudity, so it's time to stop promoting them with such suggestions. The additions here mainly involve gross-outs and language.
White Chicks is available in two versions, the theatrical PG-13-rated release and an "unrated and uncut" edition. I received the latter to review. On one disc, you get the uncut version, along with several bonus features. The anamorphic widescreen main menus are animated on the first pass, and static thereafter, while the other menus are all static, with a police-tape "unrated" theme. Besides the extras and previews options, there are scene selections and language options. In a nice touch, the scene selections indicate where new material has been added to the film. Language options include English and French 5.1 soundtracks, and English and French subtitles.
Columbia/Tri-Star did an excellent job with the audio and video quality on White Chicks, which has plenty of challenges to overcome, including a dark nightclub scene that risked ending up muddy, and a white party that could have become a halo-ing, shimmering nightmare. The video is top-notch, with excellent colors and definition, while the blacks and shadows are excellent. There was no visible evidence of any troubles in the transfer. The 5.1 soundtrack is equally good, with a decent amount of activity in the surrounds for a comedy. There's a very bold top-40 group of songs on the soundtrack, and they sound great, enhancing the feel of the movie.
A commentary by the Wayans brothers leads things off, with the three brothers following along with the flick. I don't know if they used the same track for the PG-13 version, but there are references to the scenes that were cut to get that rating. Apparently, the boys don't have a lot to say about the film, not do they seem very into it, yawning and speaking like they are in a library, while leaving large gaps in the track. At one point, Keenan actually thinks out-loud about what Spielberg says on his commentaries, obviously not knowing Spielberg doesn't do them. Though they do occasionally say something interesting or entertaining, like when Marlon farts and leaves to use the bathroom, overall, it's an overly quiet dud.
Three featurettes are available to check out, but when you add it all up, it's more like one extended featurette. That's because much of the material is repeated in two of three featurettes. It seems as though the EPK created by Revolution Studios was cut up again and again. The Encore network used that footage to put together a featurette of their own, titled "Encore: On the Set," which has interviews with the principals, clips from the trailer and behind-the-scenes looks. The video is a mix of full-screen and letterboxed widescreen. Much of the footage seen here is repeated in "A Wayans Comedy (The Idea, Process, and Humor of Creating a Comedy)." How they came up with the concept and put it together is covered here, with the same mix of interviews and scenes from the movie. The EPK is sliced up again in "How's They Do That? (The Makeup), which focuses a bit more on the special effects of the films. Combined, the three featurettes do provide a good amount of info on the making of the film, but there is a lot of repetition.
Brief text filmographies for the Wayans are included, along with four trailers, including the preview for White Chicks, Christmas with the Kranks, Hitch and Are We There Yet?. The amount of extras is weak, considering how many times on the commentary the Wayans mention putting alternate takes on the DVD.
The Bottom Line
As an experiment in make-up special effects and female impersonation, White Chicks is a winner. As a complete movie, it falls quite short of the mark. A lack of any basis in reality, a reliance on gross-out jokes and racial comedy and a generally ridiculous story make for a weak film. But, saying that, there are an unexpectedly high amount of laugh-inducing moments, and most of them come from the film's ridiculousness. I can't say I'm a big Wayans Brothers fan, as their Scary Movie franchise left me cold, but this was better than I thought it would be. I won't say I recommend it, but I would recommend checking it out as a rental. Shut your mind off and you can have a fun couple of hours.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.