Film Reviews


By • Aug 22nd, 2003 •

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Hey! Here’s a brilliant idea! Let’s get a 90 year-old very rich man to direct an urban fable about a New York Jewish socialite and a hip-hop thug artist with a sweet-silly voice. That old dude will keep it real! And, he’ll star in it with Lisa Kudrow!

There is one more major stumbling block besides director Richard Benjamin having neither a clue nor emotional link to his subject matter, which is that the cinematographer brutalizes all the actors. Kudrow, with her nostrils flaying, looks old and pinched. Christine Baranski looks puffy with very bad skin. Her striptease is cruel. Damon Wayans is fat. Shall I go on?

Kudrow is good in very small pieces. In a TV ensemble cast, where she is given a few pages each episode, things work nicely for her. The camera is not trained on her in close-up. Emotional depth is not required when you are merely positioned in a scene to reply with funny zingers. But a million dollars an episode changes everybody’s perception, especially The Management Team and Staff of Employees. Nobody says “No.” Nobody tells you the truth. Everybody is afraid of you and of losing their access to a Star. Kudrow is terrific in the small, ancillary roles that she is highly appropriate for (I loved her in THE OPPOSITE OF SEX, where her facial expression of absolute resentment works). Unfortunately, she cannot command a starring role. MARCI X will be a testament to this.

Marci Feld (Kudrow), is the adored daughter of billionaire Ben Feld (Richard Benjamin). Unbeknownst to Feld, he owns Felony Assault Records, whose major star is Dr. $ (Wayans, looking ten years to old for this part). Senator Mary Ellen Spinkle (Baranski) calls for a boycott because Dr. $’s CD contains very funny songs titled, “I Love You Because I’m High” and “It Ain’t My Baby Because I Don’t Like You.” Feld has a major heart attack and Marci attempts to change Dr. $’s image. Her father has named every charity project after her, but she must now prove to him she is his rightful heir – even though she is a flighty woman. Marci goes to one of Dr. $’s concerts (with her three member posse of socialite girlfriends) and accepts the challenge to rap. Marci’s rap, about her handbag, unites The Sisterhood. Dr. $ agrees to do a public service announcement on sexual abstinence for Marci.

It should be noted that though Marci has had boyfriends, naming among them Bill Gates, it’s the thug sweet rapper who captures her heart. Her worshipful girlfriends also find love slumming with Dr. $’s posse. The entire subtext of “ebonics” dates the material. All the songs and dance numbers are dreadful. Wayans wants to be in movies but does not want to play a black thug rapper so he uses a fragile contrived voice that suggests a peace living Mike Tyson.

The script by Paul Rudnick is terrible (and should have stayed put on the Studio’s shelf as a star vehicle stumble). However, I did laugh out loud several times to Rudnick’s one-liners teasing luminaries such as Donald Trump, Eminem, and Martha Stewart. But can a screenplay be made into a movie because of a series of funny one-liners? Finally, Benjamin does not have a light touch with the material. He gives himself a starring role and then just makes painfully confused faces. If placing the camera in front of the actors and showing up on time is all it takes, then I hail Benjamin for fulfilling the task! Ah, who really cares if MARCI X is any good? It is merely meant to build the resume, right Kate Hudson?

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