Bil’s rating (out of 5): 0.5. USA, 2003. Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Munich Film Partners New Century & Company. Screenplay by Paul Rudnick. Cinematography by Robbie Greenberg. Produced by Scott Rudin. Music by Mervyn Warren. Production Design by Therese DePrez. Costume Design by David C. Robinson. Film Editing by Jacqueline Cambas. Podcasts: Bad Gay Movies.
Not even the presence of two adorable stars can help this abysmally inept comedy, in which Lisa Kudrow stars as a privileged Jewish princess who needs to step in and help the family business after her tycoon father (director Richard Benjamin) is taken ill. The provocative lyrics of a popular rapper (Damon Wayans) have inspired the ire of conservative senator Christine Baranski, who urges a boycott of all products owned by Benjamin’s corporate holdings which include Wayans’ record label. Kudrow decides to woo the performer into toning it down in order to help save the business and restore her father to good health: what a smart writer like Paul Rudnick does, surprisingly, is to avoid letting the character find a new direction in life a la Private Benjamin, instead having the script spiral downward into a romance that never works because of zip chemistry between the stars, and hilariously campy jokes that make no sense because Benjamin directs them with practicality and no flair for satire. The two leads had proven themselves extremely talented comedians on television for years by the time this was made and yet somehow seem total amateurs here, if that’s any indication of how little skill is happening behind the scenes. Add to the mix some very precious if not offensive depictions of black American culture and you have a film that truly needs to be seen to be believed. Jane Krakowski appears in a supporting role (also far beneath her skills), and look for future Glee star Matthew Morrison as one of the boy band members who appear in a PSA that Wayans tinkers with (in one of the film’s most weirdly illogical scenes, and that’s with the knowledge that it is meant to be a joke).