Judge Eric Profancik enjoyed the subtle irony of a black man who impersonates a white woman being lactose intolerant.
They're going deep undercover.
When I saw the trailer for White Chicks, the first thought that came to mind was that it looked stupid. It was put on my ignore list, and I had no intention of seeing such a turd. Oddly, though, I did end up seeing the movie in the theater. It was part of an interesting movie marathon that started with Fahrenheit 9/11, ended with The Terminal, and had White Chicks in between. Don't ask for the specific hows or whys of that one. After the very sobering Fahrenheit 9/11, I found myself enjoying and laughing through White Chicks, even though my female friend thought I was an idiot for laughing so much. But viewing this film again, just a few months later, it wasn't as much fun as the first time.
Facts of the Case
Kevin (Shawn Wayans, Scary Movie, In Living Color) and Marcus Copeland (Marlon Wayans, Dungeons & Dragons, Requiem for a Dream) are bumbling FBI agents. It seems that something always goes wrong during a bust, and their boss is one step away from shipping them off to some very undesirable duty. But then the "heiress case" comes up, and the brothers Copeland want in on the action. The FBI believes that Brittany and Tiffany Wilson are going to be kidnapped and held for ransom during their Labor Day excursion to the Hamptons. This is a big case, and the Copelands think they can win back some of their boss's favor by working on the case. They demand to be included, and they are given an assignment. Unbeknownst to them, they are given the one job nobody else wants: escort the divas from the airport to the hotel. How hard could it be to shuttle two, spoiled, rich heiresses? What could go wrong?
How about an accident? As Kevin and Marcus are taking the Wilson sisters to their suite, the sisters' dog, Baby, jumps out the car window, leading to mayhem on the highway. The car ends up skidding off the road. No one is hurt, but the girls end up with very minor scratches on their faces. Being extremely vain, the two refuse to leave the hotel. Kevin and Marcus can't tell their boss they messed up yet again, but how are they going to get the girls to the Hamptons? Kevin and Marcus are going to become Brittany and Tiffany Wilson, that's how.
Using cutting-edge makeup technology, the boys become girls and infiltrate the high society of the Hamptons. They are immediately accepted as the Wilson sisters. As the two meet "their" friends and enemies, these two black men must figure out how to blend in with rich, white women while finding out who is the heiress kidnapper.
It was the fart joke. That's what did it for me the first time. There's just something about a good fart joke that can make a movie better. And there's a pretty good fart joke in White Chicks. I remember that scene quite specifically from the theater because I laughed so much that I ended up crying, but my friend just sat next to me, not laughing, with this big scowl on her face. Well, maybe not a scowl so much as a look of "This is so not funny. Why are you laughing so hard at this? What kind of moron are you?" From that point on, I really enjoyed the movie.
At home, knowing the fart joke was coming—knowing every joke that was coming—took everything away from White Chicks. It doesn't hold up to repeated viewings due to its very thin plot and premise. The joy of the movie—if you dare phrase it that way—is seeing how these black men fit into a white chick's world. An obvious spoof on Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, White Chicks does a pretty good job of skewering the rich and pampered, but the humor fades quickly. It's the typical fish-out-of-water setup, but it's coming from a fresh perspective this time. I can't think of any other movie where black men become white women, so we have a new take on a very old idea. And it is funny to see these guys trying on women's clothing, going on dates, and having a slumber party. The situations are amusing…the first time you see them. But after that, it's a classic case of been there, done that.
This may sound stupid, but the saving grace of this movie is when Kevin and Marcus are dressed up as white chicks. During the initial setup before we reach the Hamptons, the movie is horrible. You don't care about these guys as black men; you just want to see what kind of trouble they are going to get into. And when they are in the Hamptons and not in makeup, those scenes are painful. This culminates in the dreadful subplot with Marcus and his wife. This is the setup for the unnecessary moral to the story: With Marcus and his wife, we see how bad a man Marcus is. Only after dressing like a woman does he (and Kevin) learn how to be a better man and how to treat a woman right. I didn't care one bit about the marital troubles of Marcus. I didn't care about a soft, chewy moral. This is a silly farce, and all I want to do is laugh. So stay on topic and keep the story focused on the black dudes impersonating white chicks.
One bright spot that remained during the second viewing was the character Latrell Spencer (Terry Crews, Friday After Next). This huge, hulking black man has a fondness for white women. He chases them exclusively, and his attitude is clearly not of your typical black man. It was funny to see how this mammoth black man acted in chasing what he thought to be a white chick.
This DVD is presented as the "unrated and unedited" version of the movie. It appears that there are about six minutes of extra footage included on this disc, and I think I actually caught most of it. Most of them are scene extensions here and there, with the meat of the bonus footage being a continuation of the slumber party scene. Let's just say this uncomfortable scene includes a cylindrical object that a straight man would never want to touch. On the whole, the footage doesn't change the story, but it does reiterate that the Wilson sisters are imposters.
The transfers for this 2004 movie are right in line with what you would expect from such a recent film. The 1.85:1 anamorphic video looks great with bright colors, rich blacks, excellent detail, and no errors. With the audio, you have a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that serves this dialogue-intensive movie well. You'll never have any problems with the dialogue and the surrounds and subwoofer are used on occasion to liven things up.
There are a few special features to take a look at on this release. First is an audio commentary by the Wayans brothers—Shawn, Marlon, and Keenan (who directed the movie). This track was more entertaining than I imagined. I expected a lot of boasting and self-congratulating, but it is kept to a minimum and lots of stories about the movie and the process are shared. It's worth a listen. Then there are three unimpressive featurettes: "How'd They Do That?" (11 minutes), "A Wayans Comedy" (10 minutes), and "Encore—On the Set" (15 minutes). The first talks about the makeup used to transform Shawn and Marlon into the white chicks. It's not a bad piece, but I expected a little bit more considering the rather drastic change the makeup brings about. The next one talks about the genesis of the project and who contributed what into the creation of the film. This one is a bit heavy on the fluff and self-congratulating. And, lastly, the "Encore" piece is a complete waste of time. It's nearly 100% repetition of the first two features. Rounding things out are some filmographies and a handful of trailers.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I haven't talked about the makeup and transformation of the brothers Wayan into white chicks. If you take a look at a still picture of the two guys, it looks very impressive. They look white and almost feminine. But when you see the two of them in the movie, they are two ugly women. The prosthetics needed to soften their features add too much bulk to their face, and the fight between their natural contours and the plastic just doesn't work. Though, from some angles, it's not too bad. Of course, in real life—if such an insane thing were to ever happen, who would believe that they were actually women? More so, women that they already knew? Nobody. No one would believe the changes, brushing it off as excessive collagen. But it is a movie, so we won't quibble any longer.
Another thing that percolates throughout White Chicks is the disregard for people. Everyone takes a blow in the film, and, from a certain point of view, everyone gets a hit. The film casually insults white men, black men, white women, black women, Latinos, and so forth. I think the only group not insulted in this movie is homosexuals. Is this a racist film? Nah. It's just showing a blatant disregard for everyone in the name of comedy.
The recommendation for this film is an easy one. If you haven't seen the film, then you will probably get a decent night of laughter from the film. The black-guys-as-white-chicks concept does have some funny moments, and you will laugh. I will give it a rental recommendation, but I'm going to shy away from giving it a buy recommendation. As I said, the movie's jokes don't hold up to a second viewing, and the film slows down when the guys are out of drag. While the disc looks and sounds good, the added footage and bonus features don't overcome the film's inherent weaknesses.
White Chicks is hereby found guilty of racial insensitivity. All parties are remanded to the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. for sensitivity training.
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Scales of Justice
• Audio Commentary by Keenan Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, and Marlon Wayans
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