Gene Siskel had this great test for bad movies: What would be better? Watching actors playing characters in a terrible on-screen production or watching a documentary of the same actors being themselves having lunch together? Think about it. It’s a provocative question.
One wonders what he would’ve made of White Chicks, one of the worst would-be comedies I’ve ever seen. It wreaks of more than just desperation. It operates on the flimsiest of premises and, in my view, would definitely not pass Siskel’s rather clever test. In fact, it would’ve insulted his intelligence.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans play a couple of hapless FBI Agents who, in the real world, would’ve never been accepted into the training academy in the first place, let alone become actual agents. These guys are so stupid even the Police Academy would turn them down.
The opening sequence in the film ably demonstrates their incompetence. Buried under latex and fake hair (and speaking with excruciatingly bad accents), they pretend to be a couple of Mexican variety store owners. They speak mostly gibberish, save for a few familiar lines of La Bamba and Guantanamera. In walks a small, suspicious group of foreigners. The cops (and the audience) think these guys are up to no good. (They’re suspected of drug dealing.) They announce that the "ice cream" the variety store owners ordered has arrived. Soon after a suitcase full of money is opened, all hell breaks loose. The FBI guys remove their latex masks and open up a can of whoop-ass. Then they discover the ice cream. Then, the real bad guys show up. And escape.
Their boss (Frankie Faison from all 4 Hannibal Lecter movies) is none too pleased with their efforts. If I was their boss, I’d fire them on the spot. What does Mr. Faison do? He orders them to clean up the mess they made. Wouldn’t that remove important evidence from the scene that the real bad guys left behind, like a bullet casing, perhaps? It’s hard to know at this point which of these three characters have the least intelligence.
Then we meet the Wilson sisters. They make Nicky and Paris Hilton (the obvious targets of this piss-poor satire) seem bearable by comparison. The Wayan Brothers are assigned the extremely thankless task of shadowing these rich bitches. Apparently, someone wants to kidnap them. Once you meet them, you wish someone would already. They are so disagreeable that even the Wayans can’t take them. They pick them up at the airport and on the way to the hotel where they’ll be temporarily staying, a fateful decision to open a passenger-side window leads to the near-death of a beloved pet. Can you say "poor taste"? I knew you could.
After one of the Wilsons (you really can’t tell them apart and why would you?) has a "bitch fit", one of the dopey FBI agents comes up with the bright idea of becoming them. Literally. A better idea would’ve been to let the kidnapper just take them away already so that the quality of the movie might improve. Then again, a whole bunch of annoying characters would have to be kidnapped for this movie to start winning me over.
Thankfully, the Wilsons are so astonishingly brain-dead, they agree to stay secluded in the hotel while our increasingly asinine heroes go about the incredibly unconvincing task of imitating them. (Whatever keeps them off-screen.) A bunch of scientists are brought in to create the full-body latex disguise the Wayans will be wearing during their weekend in the Hamptons. When you see them as the Wilsons it is utterly unconvincing. They look like aliens trying to imitate ditzy blondes. Really tall ditzy blondes with big feet. (The real girls are way shorter, guys.)
Just look at their faces. They’re bizarre. The eyes look wrong and their faces are nowhere near the same as the Wilsons. Plus, the Wayans Brothers are fairly fit men. They look like men dressed as women. Really unattractive women who walk, run, jump, flirt and sometimes talk like men, also. And when they do talk like women, they sound like that wrestler Chyna and not at all like the Wilsons.
Fortunately, everybody is fooled by their act. Yes, everybody, which means there is not one intelligent character in this movie (and that includes FBI Agents, close friends, and even a journalist). If there was, the Wayans’ true identities would be exposed in a second.
The make-up effects in this movie are the worst I have ever seen. Did no one associated with this production step back and really scrutinize how the Wayans really looked as the Wilsons? If the effect doesn’t work, the movie doesn’t work. News flash: the movie doesn’t work.
Believe it or not, I did laugh during a few sequences. (Most of the time, I cringed silently for long stretches.) When the fake Wilsons get acquainted with the incredibly stupid friends of the real Wilson sisters, who initially look puzzled but still believe they’re the real deal, (why no "bad facelift" jokes?) they all go to a party where we meet Latrell Spencer (Terry Crews). He’s an NBA star with a major jones for white broads. He’s also remarkably creepy, coming on so strong and sickly one wonders how he gets laid in the first place. (There’s a sick joke about how women who go to bed with him end up in wheelchairs. Not funny in the post-OJ era.)
He’s deeply in love with one of the fake Wilsons and later, during a charity bachelorette auction, he pays $50,000 to win a date with one of them. When they’re in his car together, the fake Wilson sister turns on the radio and the song A Thousand Miles begins. It should be noted that he/she has been trying everything on this date to turn off big Spencer (eating too much, biting a toenail right off the toe, insulting his playing ability, farting), none of it successful. The next thing you know, Spencer announces his love for this song. The way he moves his head to the music is the film’s funniest scene. (He has another funny moment during the nightclub sequence.)
If the word "stupid" had not yet been invented, this movie would inspire its creation. It knows nothing about the FBI, journalism, undercover work, women, friendship, conviction and, most importantly, comedy. So many things can go wrong in a comedy without affecting your enjoyment of it. You can hate the characters, the story, the way it looks and even the music. It can also be incredibly offensive. But it can always be saved by a lot of laughs. As long as it is consistently funny, you can forgive its less-important faults.
White Chicks is not funny. There is no way this premise could work comedically. The only way to convince the audience that the real Wilson sisters and the fake Wilson sisters look and sound exactly the same is to use the same actors for all four roles (and have the Wayans Brothers dub their voices at appropriate intervals). But it still wouldn’t be funny because the Wilson sisters are annoying. The fact they have equally irritating rivals (Brittany Daniel and Jaime King) with the same level of intelligence doesn’t help.
Add into the mix a deeply disturbed and controlling wife, two more dumb FBI Agents (who did make me laugh a couple of times, I have to admit), and forgettable villains (not to mention the least-developed crime story ever committed to film) and what do you end up with?
To quote Colin Mochrie on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, "Crap, crap, crap!"
Being interested in pursuing an announcing career, I joined D.R.B.S. (Delta’s Radio Broadcasting System), which was just a fancy name for the P.A. System. That was a cool gig, and so was writing for the school newsmagazine, OMNIA, and its supplementary newsletter, the cutely named Om-Lette.
After graduating in the summer of 1993, I was ready for Mohawk College. No more sax playing for me. Writing and announcing became my sole extracurricular interests.
In September, I bumped into fellow Delta grad, Carl Pissey (yes, that’s his last name and I’m sure he’s changed it), who was a fellow announcer in D.R.B.S. He was with this girl (whose name I don’t remember now) and I told them I was looking for CHMR, Mohawk Cable FM. They took me into the station, introduced me to the station manager and handed me a volunteer sheet to fill out. (I would be a DJ at the station for the next 5 years. In 1998, during my last year, it finally became a full-fledged FM station.)
Still interested in becoming a movie critic, I checked out Mohawk’s student newspaper, The Satellite. I found out the hard way that they had a specific protocol for submissions. You had to get your pieces in by Friday. They published every Tuesday and so, submitting your writing on Monday was just too late (as I discovered when I submitted typewritten copies of my reviews of True Romance and Boxing Helena. They’re supposed to be saved on a disc and then handed in.) Having seen how much time and effort is needed on Monday to get the paper ready for publication, it was a reasonable rule.
Once I knew what was expected, I was fine. I just wish, in retrospect, I had written a lot more and got published more. Most of the time, when I wanted to review a movie, I would have to pay for a ticket (like everybody else) to see that particular movie, which wasn’t a big deal. (Not once was I given a free pass during my Delta years.) So, I was spoiled by my first assignment. Entertainment Editor Brad Lickman handed me a free pass to see The Good Son. There was an advance screening scheduled for September 23, 1993 at the Centre Mall Cinemas. I took my mom with me to the screening that night.
It was a big deal to me, this assignment. I didn’t want to screw it up. It was exhilarating to go from writing reviews for OMNIA and Om-Lette at the high school level to doing the exact same thing at an actual College paper. It was an advancement, in my mind.
I wrote a quick review, saved it to disc and handed it in. When it was published on October 5, 1993 on page 11 of The Satellite, I was pissed off. Lickman’s editing skills did not impress me.
I wrote a numbered list of observations I made throughout the film. The numbers were removed and as a result, it undermined what I was trying to do stylistically.
But the biggest annoyance was this concluding paragraph which I didn’t even write:
“Despite good reviews, I would personally recommend at least waiting for The Good Son to be released on video, and even then you may be disappointed.”
I would’ve never written such nonsense. As you will read shortly, the movie is not worth seeing at all. Not in a theatre, not on DVD, not on TV and certainly not on an airplane. I confronted Lickman about this change (there’s something about people screwing with my writing that really gets me fired up) and told him that I didn’t approve of what he did to my review. I don’t remember yelling at him or anything but I certainly expressed to him that I wasn’t happy with what he wrote. He added thoughts to the piece that didn’t belong to me. It was way over the line for an editor to do that. To his credit, he never did that ever again. I’m glad I spoke up. (During my second year at Mohawk, he became the Managing Editor. As long as he didn’t tinker with my writing, that was fine with me.)
Needless to say, that paragraph has been excised from the review you’re about to read. I’ve also made some edits of my own, changing tenses here and there, rephrasing the beginning of a sentence, just little things I should’ve caught on my own 13 years ago. Essentially, this is what appeared in the paper.
This was my very first published piece in The Satellite. It’s far from perfect but it represented a step forward in my writing. For the first time, I wrote a proper review. Unlike my OMNIA/Om-Lette pieces where I wrote endlessly about the plot and only a line or two about the quality of the film, this piece is filled with my thoughts and feelings about the movie from beginning to end. Even though it’s awfully succinct and doesn’t describe the plot in painstaking detail, it’s better than anything I wrote during my Delta period.
By the way, it was originally accompanied with a still of a toque-wearing Macauley Culkin (the villain in the movie) from Home Alone 2. You know that scene where he bumps into the two hapless burglars (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci) and just starts screaming his head off? That’s where the photo came from. It must’ve been on file or something. (The Satellite received production information from film companies all the time but we must not have gotten anything for The Good Son.)
The best part was the caption: “Macaulay Culkin goes psychotic in The Good Son.”
By Dennis Earl
While watching Joseph Rubin’s The Good Son, there were many things I noticed. First, I have seen this movie countless times before in other “intruder-from-hell” thrillers, such as Unlawful Entry and Single White Female. Henry is not a difficult role for Macaulay Culkin to play since the character is merely the evil incarnation of Kevin MacAllister (Home Alone). Instead of setting traps for moronic burglars, Culkin kills a dog, breaks windows, causes a ten car pile-up and frames his cousin who is played convincingly by Elijah Wood.
There is not one original line of dialogue or a fresh scene in the film. Director Joseph Rubin (Sleeping With The Enemy) has an amazing knowledge of recycled, overused cliches including the villain’s death scene.
During the screening I attended the audience laughed at Culkin’s performance rather than crying in fear. Once Wood realizes that Culkin is not what he appears to be, he notifies his father and informs him of the terrible sins Henry has committed. However, Wood’s father never shows up for the rest of the film – hello!
Another scene in the movie has Culkin and Wood going to a bridge to have some so-called fun. Culkin drops a dummy out onto the highway and causes a ten car accident. Amazingly, no one sees who committed the prank even though the hero and villain are clearly visible during the entire incident and don’t flee until the horror subsides. Also, we never quite understand why Culkin attempts to kill his sister or his mother after Wood comes to visit.
The main problem with The Good Son is that it doesn’t have a solid screenplay. There are loose ends all over the place and many of them are not resolved by the end of the film. Poor directing, bad acting and a weak ending also contribute to this faulty flick. The only bright spot in the film is Elijah Wood. He delivers the only credible performance portraying the only intelligent character in the movie.