White Chicks (unrated DVD version, 2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

(These comments refer to the unrated DVD. I have not seen the theatrical version.)

I think you can probably skip this one.

It garnered probably the worst reviews in the history of the UK, and the American critics weren't much kinder. It didn't get the worst American reviews of any major 2004 theatrical film, but it was near the bottom, and it was the highest grosser on the list.

Name of 2004 release % positive reviews
Baby Geniuses 2 0%
Twisted 2%
Godsend 3%
My Baby's Daddy 4%
Kaena: The Prophecy 4%
The Whole Ten Yards 5%
Envy 6%
Johnson Family Vacation 7%
Surviving Christmas 8%
Taxi 9%
Catwoman 9%
White Chicks 12%

Most film with reviews that bad fail financially, but not this one. Despite the reviews, it was a minor hit in the USA, grossing $69 million. It's not as good as the box office would indicate, but not as awful as the Brit-crits would have you believe. It's generally not very funny, but there are a few laughs scattered here and there. The problem is that all of the humor is both obvious and juvenile. It's below the level of sitcom schtick.

The premise is even worse than the jokes. It's just plain lazy and outlandish, even for a slapstick comedy. Two of the thousands of Wayans brothers star as FBI agents who have to impersonate two white female socialites - and fool a room full of long-term acquaintances of the real heiresses.

Get real.

Perhaps the lads might hope to succeed if the disguises had to fool some people who had never met the real heiresses face-to-face, because the Wayans brothers did look kinda sorta almost convincing as women, in a scary putty-face sort of way. But that ain't how it went down. The script called for them to fool the lifelong friends of the girls. (How did they explain their height?  "We had our knees done.")

I guess you just had to suspend disbelief a lot more than usual.

The "unrated" version of the DVD is hype. It's probably raunchier than the PG-13 theatrical release, but it's a clean zero as far as skin goes. There is no nudity, despite one scene that was obviously set up to include nudity, and actually includes naked body parts just out of camera range. In fact, it really needs the body parts to make the joke work correctly, but they are never seen. Two other FBI agents, rivals who don't like the Wayans brothers, publicly pull open the blouse of one Wayans and pull down the pants of the other in order to show the FBI bureau chief that the boys are not the real heiresses -  only to find out that they accidentally grabbed the REAL heiresses. Oops!

It would have made a great nude scene.

Never happened.

It's interesting that two black men can get away with impersonating two white women for comic effect. Do you think it would be considered acceptable for two white men to put on blackface to impersonate two black sisters in a lowbrow comedy? Maybe, but I doubt it.


None. See the main commentary.

Reminds me of a strange story.

In my TV days I once had to play a black man. Yes, I know that is in bad taste, but I had no choice. Here's the story. We had a black actor who failed to show up for the taping because of a mix up in scheduling. We had a studio reserved, a deadline to meet, a budget to stay within, and all of the crew and cast assembled and on the clock. The part required a black man - any black man who could deliver a couple of simple lines -  for a simple visual joke. A small, skinny white guy with a squeaky voice, ala Gilligan, was supposed to introduce his twin brother, a burly and polysyllabic black man with a voice like James Earl Jones. Because of the interrelated nature of the sketches, there was no way to re-write the entire show. There was no black man available, not even one of the crew members. I was elected. I was actually working as a writer, standing around the set in my suit because I went to the taping after working my other job. The producer/director didn't care if I was a writer or an actor. It didn't matter to him if I was Walt Fucking Whitman, because he was paying a bunch of technical guys by the hour, and I had the right build and the right voice for the role, so the make-up guys got busy on me and transformed my white surfer-boy ass into a makeshift James Earl Jones. (You can see what I really look like here - or rather what I looked like a few years ago. I'm about as black as Rutger Hauer.)

Of course, we weren't demeaning the character. The whole joke was simply in the fact that the two guys were twins. I was wearing a three-piece suit and I delivered my one or two lines with my best Darth Vader impersonation, so there was nothing especially undignified about it, but I was still relieved that there were no letters or calls of complaint, and the show was pulled from the re-run schedule. Without the permission of those who actually owned the rights, I personally stole and destroyed the original 3/4 inch commercial grade video, so I am sure the broadcast was never seen again and could never be seen again by anyone in the future. I doubt if there are fifteen people in the world who would remember seeing it.

(I do still have a 1/2 inch consumer grade VHS tape of the show, which I made with my home VCR from the single broadcast, but that sucker is stayin' on the shelf!)

Anyway, I guess my point is this. I was terrified of the reaction I might get from playing a black character out of necessity, even though it was a sympathetic portrayal, an intellectual, and the only dignified and intelligent character on the show. Yet the Wayans Brothers didn't seem be worried about the appropriateness of  lampooning the daylights out of white female socialites in various cruel and degrading ways. (Albeit, regrettably, PG-13 ways.)

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic transfer.

  • minor features about the special effects and make-up

This does not seem to be a two-way street.

I'm not arguing that it should be. I've thought about it some, but I still just don't know how I feel about it. I'm not offended at all by the Wayans Brothers doing the schtick.

I'm just sayin' ...

The Critics Vote ...

  • British consensus: less than half of a star. Mail 0/10, Telegraph 0/10, Independent 1/10, Guardian 1/10, Mirror 2/10, Times 3/10, BBC 1/5

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It surprised a lot of people by becoming a minor hit. It grossed a very respectable $69 million. It was budgeted at $37 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated to be another $30 million.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. It is a sub-par comedy, and the critics were merciless, especially the British ones, but I can't rate it much lower on our system, because it had fans and a $69 million gross, so it obviously met the minimal standards for genre fans.

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