Jamie Kennedy's a lousy white rapper in Malibu's Most Wanted, and his costars steal the show.

Uncool as Ice 

Jamie Kennedy's a lousy white rapper in Malibu's Most Wanted, and his costars steal the show.

Can we please, for the love of God, declare a moratorium on the use of Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" in movies? ("We Want the Funk" can go, too.) At the very least, if the plot of the movie in question features an uncool white guy who undergoes a quest for respect, let's use the Vanilla Ice version. Robbie Van Winkle could probably use the extra cash.

Then again, as the central character of Malibu's Most Wanted is fond of reminding us, The name is B-Rad/Not Robbie Van Winkle/I like my latte nonfat/And don't forget the sprinkle! The rhymes in Cool as Ice were definitely dope by comparison. B-Rad (Jamie Kennedy), otherwise known as Brad Gluckman, is merely dopey, a white boy who lives "up in the 'bu" where he hangs with phony gangs who wear designer colors. Their idea of trouble is "when the public be all up on yo' private beach!"

B-Rad still lives with his straight-laced parents (Ryan O'Neal and Bo Derek), and though they aren't the harsh disciplinarians seen in more serious culture-clash teen fare like crazy/beautiful, dad is running for governor. He'd love to score more points with minorities, but having his pale-skinned son constantly crashing his rallies with inept rhymes about bitches and hoes, however well-meaning, doesn't curry favor with that all-important soccer-mom demo.

Campaign manager Tom Gibbons (Blair Underwood) comes up with a more radical notion to scare B-Rad straight: Hire actors to pretend to be real thugs, then have them carjack B-Rad and take him on a tour of the real 'hood. The actors, who take on the nicknames of Bloodbath and Tre, are even less "real" than their target -- pompous Sean (Taye Diggs) has to buy a dictionary of hip-hop slang to get into character; cowardly P.J. (Anthony Anderson) relies on his hairdresser cousin Shondra (Regina Hall) for insight.

Unlike the recent Bringing Down the House, Malibu's Most Wanted avoids the cliché of exalting stereotypical "blackness" as inherently cool, and it also steers clear of implying that any race behaves in a uniform manner. Underwood's ruthless bureaucrat is vaguely implied to be a sellout, but Sean and P.J. are ridiculed for being untrue to themselves, not for being unable to embody gangsta cool. But Kennedy and the filmmakers (including a director with the unlikely name of John Whitesell) ask us to understand that B-Rad is, in his own way, genuine, even though the character is about as believable and subtle as Jar Jar Binks.

Kennedy often seems to be laughing at his own jokes even as he's performing them. Diggs and Anderson, on the other hand, are funny and believable, at least to the extent that such characters can be in a high-concept comedy. If the movie had revolved around Bloodbath and Tre, the movie could've gone over the top as a real winner.

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