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White Chicks

(2004)  1/2 Pg-13
105 min. Columbia Pictures. Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans. Cast: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Jaime King, Frankie Faison, Lochlyn Munro.

White Chicks, which gleefully transforms African-American actors Marlon and Shawn Wayans into grotesque blonde debutantes, is the second 2004 film to warp Billy Wilder's deathless Some Like It Hot into a dismal modern "comedy" (the first was Connie and Carla). Though a slight improvement over the cross-dressing caper called Juwanna Mann, White Chicks is no Tootsie; it's not even True Identity (the underwhelming 1991 movie which put Brit comic Lenny Henry into rubbery white-face).

The Wayanses—under the direction of older brother Keenen, who also helmed Scary Movie—play two bumbling FBI agents (also brothers) assigned to transport two insufferable, racist heiresses who are in danger of being kidnapped. In one of countless senseless plot devices, the brothers decide to try to save their jobs by taking the girls' place, which spells hair-flipping hijinks and heel-breaking hilarity (they wish).

In full white-chick drag, the brothers look less like the Hilton sisters and more like they may have kidnapped Whitley Strieber in the mid-'80s. Most of the humor derives from uncomfortable affronts to the brothers' hidden masculinity, unconvincing farce involving their female love interests, and whatever disgusting notions the three Wayanses, and an additional three screenwriters, could devise: let's just say that propulsive pooping and farting get more than their due.

The strongest impression of White Chicks is neither comedy nor a greater understanding of womanhood (though not for lack of trying, I'm sad to say). No, the strongest impression of White Chicks is an ugly (as opposed to witty or humanistic) exploitation of racism for cheap comedy, starting with Latinos, moving on to white chicks, and capped with the line, from one black man to another, "Will someone get this jigaboo away from me?!" Ouch. White Chicks wins half a star for repeatedly lampooning a climate in pop music which could produce Vanessa Carlton's abomination "A Thousand Miles."

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