White Chicks: Unrated and Uncut
Cross-dressing is a long-held comic contrivance that plays best when the men dressed as women look absurd. And brothers Marlon and Shawn Wayans look outlandish as women in 2004's White Chicks; switching races to play heiresses (loosely modeled on the Hilton sisters), the brothers make Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon look positively ravishing in comparison. Unfortunately the entire film falls on the contrivance that not only do people believe that they're women, but people who know the real sisters fall for it. Once that plot-point is offered, the film relies heavily on the clichés of the differences between white people and black people, and the idiocy of rich girls. It's not exactly revolutionary comic fodder, but the movie slowly builds up enough steam to be inoffensive. Marlon and Shawn play FBI agents Marcus and Kevin Copeland, who screwed up their last bust and then get into even more trouble with the Wilson (swap two letters to spell a hotel empire) sisters when a traffic accident causes slight cuts on the girls' faces. To cover for the girls, who won't go on vacation with visible wounds, the Copeland brothers go in drag on a weekend to the Hamptons in an effort to save their jobs. Joining forces with the Wilson girls' crew, they find their nemeses in their doppelgangers the Vandergeld sisters (Jamie King, Brittany Daniels), while the married Marcus has to fight off the advances of athlete Latrell Spencer (Terry Crews), who has a fondness for white women (his slogan is "once you go black, you need a wheelchair"), and Kevin falls for reporter Denise (Rochelle Aytes). Their real goal is to foil a kidnapping plot, which wraps up rather obviously, while both learn lessons about relationships through being women. And with a plot contrivance too dumb for words, it's surprising that White Chicks found an audience and ended up grossing $70 million upon release. But the movie delivers on its stupidity as advertised, and there are enough chuckles here and there. The real comic gold comes from Terry Crewes' character who finds the oddest ways to be attracted to Shawn but much of the humor is based on the boys acting manly when they're not supposed to, or feigning any acts that would compromise their masculinity. Directed by older brother Keenen Ivory Wayans, the biggest problem with White Chicks is that it opens with a very weak bit (the brothers plays old Latino grocery clerks with outrageous unfunniness). But as it goes along, the plot makes the leads sympathetic enough to make it not insufferable. Columbia TriStar presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The "Uncut and Unrated" edition includes nothing that looks like it would get slapped with an NC-17. Supplements include a commentary by Keenen, Shawn and Marlon, and three featurettes: "How'd They Do That?" (12 min.) on the make-up effects (everyone gushes over how realistic the make-up is, believe it or not), "A Wayans Comedy" (10 min.) on the three brothers' comic style, and "Encore: On the Set" (14 min.), a behind-the-scenes featurette. Bonus trailers, keep-case.