- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Wayans family must have run out of genres to spoof. Keenen Ivory Wayans, director of the first two “Scary Movies” and the 1988 blaxploitation farce “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” proves a poor fit for the new drag comedy “White Chicks.”

The film, which is rarely as offensive as its title, finds Mr. Wayans directing his two younger brothers (Shawn and Marlon Wayans) through a hackneyed series of sketches as stale as a bakery-store giveway.

The director hits hardest when he’s satirizing sedentary targets such as the “Scream” trilogy. Here, however, he virtually ignores the story’s racial possibilities, content to pelt us with poo-poo humor.

Kevin (Shawn Wayans) and Marcus (Marlon Wayans) are a pair of low-ranking FBI agents who just blew another big bust. Their boss punishes them by making them transport a pair of dimwit socialites (Gee, we wonder which heiresses they could be representing?) who are the targets of a kidnapping plot.

Each girl suffers one minor facial bruise after the agents get themselves in a traffic accident, and for vanity’s sake, they refuse to go to a tony Hamptons affair as scheduled.

So the agents dress up like them — without informing their boss — and hit the social scene.

“Some Like It Hot,” it’s not.

The film’s loopholes are legion, starting with how darn peculiar these “White Chicks” look. At times, their ice-blue eyes and superpale skin make them appear like phantoms.

Drag comedies rarely transform men into comely women. Just recall the horrified cameraman trying to zoom in on Dustin Hoffman’s puss in 1982’s “Tootsie.”

Mocking a pair of knuckleheaded heiresses is hardly a tall order, and none of “White Chicks’” ribbing digs under the surface. It’s all flipped hair and makeup obsessions, jokes any hack writer could bang out on demand.

Our leads are genial but clueless, and their older brother persuades them to push, push, push every gag until the seams start to show.

Even the inspired jokes get lost, overshuffled by a creative team that mistakenly thinks more is always funnier.

The best these “White Chicks” can do is turn to their able supporting players for relief.

When Terry Crews enters as an athlete looking for some blond attention, the movie finds a pulse. The imposing actor takes a ludicrous role and transforms it into a bona fide scene stealer without breaking a sweat.

“White Chicks” could have skewered sexual politics, racial identity or how society treats the rich and famous.

Instead, it reaches down for the easiest gags in the gutter.

**

WHAT: “White Chicks”

RATING: PG:13 (Crude humor, sexual situations and drug references)

CREDITS: Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans. Written by Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Andy McElfresh, Xavier Cook and Michael Anthony Snowden.

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

WEB SITE: www.sonypictures. com/movies/whitechicks

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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