Over the years, we've seen many characters or ideas from "Saturday Night Live" get transferred from the big screen. And many of those films have been royal stinkers, despite the fact that many have been hits. So, it's not uncommon for a TV character to make the leap to the silver screen, but it's a challenge to make a good movie in this genre. But, Jamie Kennedy has been able to take his Brad Gluckman character from his TV show "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" and on his first try, make a silly, but solid film.
Malibu's Most Wanted tells the story of Brad Gluckman (Jamie Kennedy), who calls himself B-rad, is a spoiled, rich white guy from Malibu who loves rap music and sees himself as a playa and potential rap star. His father, Bill Gluckman (Ryan O'Neal) is running for governor, and his campaign manager, Tom Gibbons (Blair Underwood),fears that Brad's bizarre hi-jinks will cost Bill the election. So, Tom hatches a plan. He will have two actors, Sean (Taye Diggs) and PJ (Anthony Anderson) pretend to carjack Brad and take him to the "'Hood" to show him what the gangsta lifestyle is really like. In short, Tom's plan is the scare Brad into being white.
So, Brad is kidnapped and taken to the home of PJ's cousin, Shondra (Regina Hall), where he is subjected to the true world of rappers and playas, and learns that this culture is for rizzle. But, will this dose of reality "cure" B-rad, or will it only feed his delusions?
Reviewing comedies like Malibu's Most Wanted is never easy, because stupid comedies only appeal to a certain part of the viewing audience. (And many critics feel that they can't stoop to praising a dumb film.) At first glance, Malibu's Most Wanted has one strike against it for having an unoriginal plot. The story borrows liberally from Black Sheep (the annoying relative who is jeopardizing a gubernatorial campaign) and CB4 (the nice boy from an upscale neighborhood who wants to be a gansta rapper). But, unlike those two films, Malibu's Most Wanted takes the comedy to a new level of parody and cartoonishness.
The fact that there are people like B-rad out there aside, Malibu's Most Wanted works because, after the first act, it leaves reality behind and becomes a ludicrous romp. As B-rad becomes more immersed in the gansta culture, the comedy become more broad, and enables the film to spoof more serious films which have focused on urban culture. B-rad is forced into many crazy situations and even hallucinates about talking rats. As with many recent comedies, Malibu's Most Wanted mixes low-brow humor with more quick-witted one-liners (listen for B-rad's request when he's onstage), making a seemingly "dumb" comedy accessible to many audiences. And the movie doesn't play favorites with its targets, as it makes fun of black and white culture. Jamie Kennedy carries the film as B-rad, and turns in a very convincing performance as a very confused young man. But, it's Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson who steal the movie, playing too uptight actors who do their very best to act tough. Their scenes are hilarious and give the movie the extra boost that it needs. The ideas in Malibu's Most Wanted may not be very original, but the film is very well executed, and most importantly, it's funny.
Malibu's Most Wanted has been captured on DVD by Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This is a very good transfer, although it does have a few problems. For the most part, the image is very sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain. But, there are a few daytime scenes which looked too bright, making the colors appear faded. Those few moments aside, the color palette in the film is a nice mixture of darks and pastels, and they look great here. There are some subtle moments of artifacting and edge-enhancement, but nothing major. Those overly-bright scenes aside, this is a nice transfer.
After viewing Malibu's Most Wanted, my subwoofer walked over to me and said, "Mike, can we watch that again?" The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track contains an incredible amount of bass, delivered by the film's rap soundtrack, and should leave your sub begging for more as well. Along with that LFE feast, we have clear and audible dialogue and no indication of hissing or distortion. The surround sound effects are plentiful, not only during the musical cues, but during crowd scenes and the shoot-out as well. This is one of the better soundtracks that I've heard lately.
The Malibu's Most Wanted DVD contains a few extras, which are oddly arranged. This is a 2-sided disc. On Side A, we have the film, which is accompanied by an audio commentary, featuring director John Whitesell, star Jamie Kennedy, writers Fax Bahr & Adam Small, and stars Anthony Anderson & Regina Hall. This track has been edited together from three separate sessions (Whitesell & Kennedy, Bahr & Small, and Anderson & Hall). Although this kind of shuffling back and forth destroys any sort of spontaneity, the speakers involved in this commentary do offer a wealth of information, as they discuss shooting locations, the origins of B-rad, and the film's production. Side A also contains selected cast & crew filmographies.
Side B contains 11 deleted scenes, which can be viewed with or without commentary from Whitesell, Kennedy, Anderson, & Hall. These scenes total 22 minutes, and most of them are brief and inconsequential. But, the extended version of B-rad's dream sequence is definitely worth seeing, simply for the cameo. This side of the disc also has the original theatrical trailer, which has been letterboxed at 2.35:1.
There are probably plenty of people out there who fear that they won't like Malibu's Most Wanted because they don't like/don't know anything about rap music. While a knowledge of rap will certainly add to the film, anyone who has been to a mall and seen kids like B-rad will get a kick out of the film. Don't expect any serious comments on society or race, but the movie is funny. For rizzle.