Punk vs. Monk: two comedies, only one funny movie

In a time when a rap song by a white rapper wins an Oscar, it seems that white boys are on their way to stardom if they have the slightest of rhyming skills. Malibu’s Most Wanted is not the best movie of the year, by far, but it delivers laughs at the expense of these rapper-wannabes.

With phrases such as “mad love,” “old school,” and a name like B-Rad, Brad Gluckman (Jamie Kennedy) wants to be part of the hood.

Although he was raised in a mansion in Malibu, Calif. and is the son of a gubernatorial candidate of California (Ryan O’Neal), Brad is as “ghettofied” as a white boy can get.

But when he interferes with his father’s campaign, the campaign manager comes up with a brilliant plan — rent out Julliard-schooled black actors to kidnap Brad, take him to the hood and “scare the black out of him.”

The actors, Sean (Taye Diggs) and P.J (Anthony Anderson), are two black guys trying to get acting gigs who get hired to play the kidnappers. They have a hard time fitting into the South Central neighborhood themselves and need a slang dictionary and long hours of practice before they can undertake the task they have accepted.

The performances of both actors are phenomenal, with Diggs and Anderson paying more attention to how their parts were acted than the result of their actions.

Brad is lured into the trap by Shondra (Regina Hall), P.J.’s cousin, the only person he knows who lives in “da hood.” Once kidnapped, he goes through a series of mostly arranged perils like a carjacking, sticking up a convenience store, participating in a rap battle and a shoot out.

Kennedy’s performance is not brilliant, but is also not horrible. He gives the audience a reason to laugh when such is needed, and it proves to be enough. The movie’s humor is somewhat juxtaposed to what 8 Mile took as serious subject matter.

Although in interviews Kennedy claims that the movie is just his take at a white rapper and has nothing to do with Eminem, other than the fact that he is the only huge representative of the genre, the similarities and comic takes are obvious.

Even though, as all movies attempting to be deep, the final scenes are full of morality and wisdom, they still manage to bring at least a smirk to most faces.

Kennedy tries, and basically achieves, the humor he attempts to provide. His signature “don’t be hatin'” becomes a line that the audience carries out on their lips as they leave the theater.

And while some may say he is no Seth Green in Can’t Hardly Wait, Kennedy carries the show with the help of Diggs and Anderson with no problem.

Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 80 minutes

Contact Olga Robak at oracleolga@yahoo.com

It’s the fastest hands in the east meets the fastest mouth in the west. Sadly, this isn’t Rush Hour, it is Bulletproof Monk. In this ethnic, buddy bore, Monk proves to be far below the action and comedy of Rush Hour. Two characters with different personalities have proved to be a winning combination, but it is sorely lagging here. In actuality, it fails to entertain in every single aspect.

Monk starts off on a smooth note. It is 1943 in Tibet and two Asian masters are fighting on a thin bridge in midair over a canyon in front of rich beauty. What starts gracefully soon turns into a mess when soldiers storm into a building looking for the Monk with no name (Chow Yun Fat), so called because he has no name in the flick. Monk beats everyone up until he is one-on-one with the leader of the pack, Strucker (Karel Roden). Strucker shoots Monk and falls off a cliff to meet his death, or does he?

Fast forward 60 years later, in present day San Francisco, the scene starts with pick-pocketer Kar (Seann William Scott) in the subway.

After trying to rob an undercover cop, Kar is chased by police officers. At the same time, Monk is chased by Strucker’s henchmen. After Kar and Monk both save the same girl, who was knocked onto the train tracks, an unlikely relationship is formed. We learn that Monk possesses an ancient scroll that holds the foundation of youth and unlimited power. Monk also sees something in Kar and takes him under his wing.

From there the movie goes terribly wrong. Granted, several of the action scenes are cool but the plot is horrid.

Scott and Yun Fat are an interesting combination, but it works the action-comedy premise to death. Whereas Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker worked off each other perfectly in Rush Hour, there is none of that here.

The relationship feels forced; Fat has the worst lines and Scott tries to rely on his charm and wit, to no avail. The mood and dialogue of the film are so herky-jerky, it kills it.

There was a potential love story with Jade (Jamie King), but it was smothered in the first half and reignited too far into the second half to be well-executed .

Scott was great in Road Trip, acting like a total jackass, but in Bulletproof Monk where he had to actually act, he falls flat on his face. The only thing he has going for him is a buff body in the fighting scenes.

And the ending has to be the worst finale to any movie in years. By defying gravity and common sense, it cheapens an already horrible film.

It is also funny how San Francisco has changed. Every car in the movie has Canadian license plates and its skyline has grown by a dozen buildings.

Even with a name like Bulletproof Monk, no one would know where to start with all the holes in the plot. Instead of going with the tried and true method Rush Hour helped create, Monk bites off a little more than it can chew.

Comedy/Action, PG-13, Running time: 103 minutes

Contact Thomas Carrigan at oraclemovies@yahoo.com