[box cover]

King's Ransom

Anthony Anderson is an actor with a future. With supporting comedic roles in such films as Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 the Grave, he's proven his big-screen presence, and now (especially in the fourth season of The Shield) he's shown that he can handle dramatic terrain. Unfortunately, King's Ransom (2005) is the first feature in which he's been given the leading role, and it's a rather terrible movie. Anderson stars as Malcolm King, a successful advertising mogul who is about to be bought out, and thus is looking at a huge payday. With dollar signs in the future and a divorce on the horizon, he decides to plan his own kidnapping at a big party to avoid paying out his wife, and he convinces his newest vice president/girlfriend Peaches (Regina King) to get her ex-con brother (Charlie Murphy) to do the dirty work. But her brother mistakes parking attendant Andre (Donald Faison) for Malcolm — while his soon-to-be ex-wife (Kelita Smith), a recently passed over coworker who quit (Nicole Ari Parker), her support staff (Leila Arcieri, Brooke D'Orsay), and a bitter guy whose sister needs money named Corey (Jay Mohr) also plan to kidnap King. Eventually it's Corey who gets Malcolm, and he's able to hold him with little fuss since Malcolm thinks he's Peaches' brother. It's not until Malcolm's ex-wife Renee stumbles onto Corey's hiding place that Malcolm realizes he's not in safe hands, while Andre stays at a nice hotel and enjoys the pleasures of Peaches' company. Directed by Joseph Byrd, King Ransom seems to be about characters learning lessons: For Corey, it's how to take charge; for Malcolm, it's to listen to his wife. But the movie is entirely too formulaic in its execution — even set-pieces that should lead to great comic moments (the four plotted kidnaps) don't have the snap of inspired comedy. In a master's hands, this could have been a stunning piece of screwball. With Anthony Anderson's casting in Martin Scorsese's 2006 film The Departed, he will surely move on to bigger and better things. And it's hard not to move up from this. New Line presents King's Ransom in a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a commentary with stars Anderson, Jay Mohr, and director Joseph Byrd, 21 deleted scenes (35 min.) with optional commentary by Byrd, and a gag reel (8 min.). Also included are a "making-of" featurette (44 min.), the theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers. Keep-case.
—DSH



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