Malibu's Most Wanted
Grade: B-
Year: 2003
Director: John Whitesell
Writer: Fax Bahr
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
By Scott Spicciati

Itís a little maddening. The lingo gets repetitive and the plot is exaggerated far beyond reality; even in Malibu terms. But "Malibu's Most Wanted" has its charms, although I doubt Eminem shares the same sentiments.

Brad Gluckman (Jamie Kennedy) is a self-made rapper living the perilous life; well, he thinks he is anyway. Residing in Malibu, B-Rad is preparing for his father's run at California governor. The problem is, Sr. Gluckman's (Ryan O'Neal) campaign team is warning him that B-Rad's presence hurts his chances at winning the election, because of his radical lifestyle. The last straw is drawn after a made-by-B-rad slogan is revealed on live television (of course nobody checks the banner beforehand) that reads, "Bill Gluckman is down with the b*tches and hos."

The evil campaign manager (Blair Underwood) knows the only chance at victory is getting rid of Mr. Gluckman's son, so he comes up with the brilliant scheme of hiring two black actors (Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson) to kidnap B-Rad, hoping to scare the 'black out of him' once he's exposed to the inner-city ghetto for the first time in his life.

The actors hired to play B-Rad's kidnappers are Sean and PJ; two guys who know nothing about the hood. "I studied at Juilliard," Sean explains. PJ is no more experienced with the line, "I was at the Pasadena Playhouse." When Sean and PJ realize they need a little assistance to execute the operation, they hire their friend, Shondra (Regina Hall), an attractive girl who actually lives in the lower community.

The plan works, at least the kidnapping part does, but B-Rad doesn't budge. As he says, "I ams who I say I ams." Then the unexpected happens. The kidnappers and B-Rad are kidnapped by real gangsters, headed by Ted (Damien Dante Wayans).

The concept of hiring kidnappers to change a son's lifestyle is a preposterous idea, but so is the entire movie. When the film opens, B-Rad tells us, "This is my ghetto--the mall." Because B-Rad is a privileged white boy growing up in one of the riches cities in California, he has no idea what a real ghetto is. He's in a three-man gang, but you won't catch them on the corner loitering in front of the Circle K, they spend their time at the Malibru Coffee shop, possibly one of the few coffee shops more expensive than Starbucks.

The story begins spiraling downward at the point when the real kidnappers enter the scene, and the movie gets dangerously close to being un-recommendable. In one scene, there's a gun battle between B-Rad's kidnapers and a rival gang. B-Rad picks up two Uzi's and begins firing at everything that movies, because he thinks it's a stunt and the guns are fake. Now no one is that stupid; anyone can tell the difference between real and fake guns, especially when you're firing them. But something unique happens in this scene. When the battle ends, everything is torn to pieces--cars and all. But no one dies, and that's refreshing. There haven't been fun movies this year. So for that, I applaud this scene despite its flaws.

"Malibu's Most Wanted" is the third film this year that has a Snoop Dog Cameo. First came "Old School," then a performance in "The Real Cancun," and now as a CGI rat who has an intimate conversation with B-Rad while he's locked up in a bedroom. This scene doesn't work at all, but it barely suffers thanks to the quick pacing of the movie; the bad scenes don't drag on while the memorable scenes play a significant part in the film.

The crisis in the film is whether or not B-Rad will be returned safely. There is never a point in the movie where he is in any real danger, so we can just sit back and watch the ending unfold. I have to say I was surprised at how well it was executed. Most comedies run out of steam by the last act, while "Malibu's Most Wanted" manages to please. Several events unfold, and all of them lead to a character yelling, "Doesn't anyone know how to use a driveway?!" I couldn't help but smile.

B-Rad's hardships are all illusions, and that's what makes the movie funny. It's a feel-good flick, and teens will have a blast from start to finish. Forget its unoriginality, if you surrender to a plot that isn't afraid to be a little ridiculous, then you'll have a good time too. It's corny, but likable at the same time.

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