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Wrong Wayans 

Do the right thing: Avoid White Chicks in bad masks.

Not only do they look nothing like the girls they're impersonating -- they look like nothing human.
  • Not only do they look nothing like the girls they're impersonating -- they look like nothing human.
Perhaps some day in the distant future, film scholars and academics concerned with race relations will devote papers and lectures and even entire books to Keenen Ivory Wayans's White Chicks, in which two FBI agents, played by Shawn and Marlon Wayans, don Caucasian masks and impersonate white women in order to catch a kidnapper. (Ostensibly this is the plot, though the narrative is so slipshod that to pretend it's about anything at all would be giving it more credit than it's due.) Maybe they will draw historical corollaries to such antecedents as The Jazz Singer, Amos and Andy, Black Like Me, and Soul Man, among others in which white men sport blackface; this, ostensibly, is the black man's revenge. It's also an extension, and bastardization, of the old Saturday Night Live sketch in which Eddie Murphy slathered himself in white makeup to discover what he always suspected: that being white in America meant getting a free pass (and newspaper).

Or perhaps historians will take as their jumping-off point a scene in which a buff black basketball star, played by Baadasssss!'s Terry Crews, pays $50,000 for a date with Marlon in white face and fake breasts. It could easily be mistaken for a subversive, if clumsy, commentary on slavery; it's particularly chilling when Brittany Daniel, as wealthy heiress Megan Vandergeld, completes the transaction by yelling "Sold!" as though Crews's character is renting to own. Most likely, though, historians will begin at the end, when Crews discovers Marlon's true identity and isn't appalled that he's really a man but that he's black and sneeringly refers to him as a "jigaboo," with the epithet intended as punch line.

As a target, the movie offers rich white folks who summer in the Hamptons and dream of getting on the cover of a magazine, but they're already parodies; inflated by Botox and collagen, those folks are no more real than Santa Claus. Wayans drops his brothers into the middle of their social scene to disrupt the proceedings. But instead of satire, we're treated to diarrhea jokes, dogs dangled from the windows of speeding SUVs, and tasteless sobriquets bestowed upon anyone who looks vaguely ethnic.

If the movie's premise is thin, then its execution is nonexistent. The gag's supposed to be that everyone in the movie believes Shawn and Marlon actually look like white women; even their best friends -- among them the horribly wasted Busy Phillips (Freaks and Geeks) and Jessica Cauffiel (Legally Blonde) -- mistake these men as their real-life counterparts. But they look not only nothing like the girls whose identities they've assumed, but nothing like human beings -- except, maybe, women who've undergone radical skin grafting after their entire faces were burned off.

To even begin to describe White Chicks as offensive would be giving it too much credit. It will disappear from theaters long before it can raise a ruckus among black filmmakers and filmgoers, who will damn it as a thousand steps in the wrong direction.

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