Sure we’ve seen underdog-themed sports comedies ad nauseam. But when was the last time you saw it with mix-ins of toilet and marijuana humor? Aha! Touché Who's Your Caddy? touché. Our token er tokin’ underdog here is C-Note (Antwan Patton aka Big Boi from Outkast) a multi-platinum Atlanta-based rapper who just wants to get his golf on. But here’s the catch: He wants to do so at an ultra-exclusive ultra-conservative seemingly all-white country club and the club’s president Cummings (Jeffrey Jones) isn’t having any of it. So what’s a golf-lorn hip-hopper to do? Why plunk down millions on the course’s chicest estate and invite his posse (Faizon Love Finesse Mitchell and others) to move in and hassle the prez to grant C-Note club membership. So begins the cat-and-mouse hijinks between C-Note and Cummings each of whom hopes force the other’s hand. And it only ends when—surprise surprise—a do-or-die golf match is agreed upon to settle the score. All of the cast members fit the bill for such crassness—except for oddly enough Patton (Boi?). And when a rapper-turned-actor is too good for a role it’s a solid indication of just how low the bar is. Producers aren’t exactly banging down Patton’s door with Oscar-worthy scripts but his offers must be better than Caddy which he probably viewed as a good first foray into the lucrative family-comedy genre. Oops. Patton is charismatic charming funny in spots—despite appearing to break character once or twice—and as seen in Idlewild and heard in his music highly talented. But Caddy is a misstep in an otherwise promising movie career. Luckily not too many people will venture to theaters to witness the degree to which it is. The brunt of the minimal comedy comes from Notorious B.I.G. doppelganger Love and former SNL-er Mitchell. The few funny scenes with the two in which Love injects his standup humor and Mitchell his stoner aloofness are scenes of (likely improvised) non-sequiturs. Ferris Bueller's Day Off villain Jones is as hateful and hateable as ever only to be topped by MTV star Andy Milonakis who plays Jones’ onscreen son. Milonakis initially plays it so straight that even his fans will squirm in embarrassment; it only gets worse when he rebels against his father and changes teams. Who's Your Caddy? writer-director Don Michael Paul’s only other movie you may have heard of (2002’s Half Past Dead) was a Steven Seagal movie—and his latest pales in comparison. Paul’s interests clearly lie in the lowest of lowbrow but whereas the Scary/Date/Epic Movie clan for example manages a few laughs—and millions of dollars—out of their comedies he can’t ever get Caddy going in any positive direction. At times in fact the movie borders on blatant racism as he tries to exploit black stereotypes and white stereotypes for cheap laughs. When that’s not the case the movie merely rips off bits of countless other better movies—despite the “originality” of fart and weed jokes being in a sports movie. Look closely if you dare and you may detect theft from Happy Gilmore Caddyshack How High Friday or maybe even Malibu's Most Wanted. Worse still than his plot devices is Paul’s implementation of directorial devices such as ever-changing cinematography depending upon the degree of giddiness he’s trying to attain or freeze-frame shots to introduce certain characters.
December 11, 2003 1:48pm EST
Remember that movie about a high school geek who gets the most popular girl in school to be his girlfriend to boost his own image only to discover that fitting in isn't worth sacrificing his individuality? Or was that a Saved by the Bell episode? Love Don't Cost a Thing is the latest teen comedy to follow that formula to a fault: Alvin Johnson (Nick Cannon) is an outcast teen with no style and he's ready to do anything to shed his nerdy image. Even his father (Steve Harvey) an old-school ladies' man wishes the boy would get out and socialize more. So when the popular Paris Morgan (Christina Millian) wrecks her mother's Cadillac Escalade Alvin an amateur mechanic offers to fix the vehicle and pay for the parts if she will pretend to be his girlfriend for two weeks. A haircut and several Sean John warm-up suits later Alvin becomes "Al " an ultra-smooth guy who's "got all the 411s." Of course Paris starts to fall for Al who's too busy keeping up his "big pimpin'" facade to notice. But after alienating everyone close to him including his childhood friends stylin' Al learns a valuable lesson about being himself.
Cannon's performance in Love Don't Cost a Thing falls short of the impressive one he delivered in the musical drama Drumline--his first lead role in a feature film. Here it's impossible to sympathize with the 23-year-old Cannon's clownish character even when he is needlessly bullied by jocks. With his crazy uneven Afro and spastic walk even Molly Ringwald's goody-good character Samantha in Sixteen Candles might be tempted to point and laugh. But while the movie's hero doesn't score many points other characters do notably Al's gal pal Paris played by songwriter/actress Millian who has written songs for Ja Rule and appeared as a guest on several TV shows including Charmed and The Steve Harvey Show. She delivers a very sincere performance as the "frappuccino with hips " and although audiences should despise her character for prostituting her popularity and lying to just about everybody Millian manages to morph Paris into a likeable personality--and we can't help but go along for the ride. But mustachioed comic Harvey steals the show as Al's loveable father Clarence a man who still boogies to his 8-track collection and gives his son very valuable life advice including how to open a condom wrapper using only one hand.
Writer/director Troy Beyer's Love Don't Cost a Thing is so visually horrendous that it should have been called This Film Didn't Cost a Thing. Beyer who directed the dire 1998 comedy Let's Talk About Sex and penned the even worse 1997 B.A.P.S. doesn't much improve her track record in 2003. Her guidance here including sound light and action is so amateurish that the film seems unfinished. An outdoor party scene for example is so dark it's difficult to make out the characters on screen and in another scene inside the school the sound is so muffled the character's lines are barely audible. Beyer's screenplay adapted from the mind-numbingly bad 1987 comedy Can't Buy Me Love doesn't help matters either; most of the characters remain as shallow and label-obsessed as they were 15 years ago. And while there have been countless Hollywood films revolving around the same theme many have done so successfully including the aforementioned oldie Sixteen Candles and more recently The New Guy.
After 20 years with the LAPD Det. Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro) just wants to catch the crooks finish the paperwork and retreat to his mundane life at home where he eats TV dinners and pursues his hobby of making bad pottery. Patrolman Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy) really wants to be an actor--he's only a cop because he made a lousy waiter. When Sellars bungles Preston's undercover case and media hounds catch it all on tape the irate Preston shoots up a news camera that gets in his face. Over-caffeinated network exec Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) upon seeing the damning evidence that could have killed her cameraman is captivated by Preston's complete lack of charm and convinces her superior she can save his crappy network by pairing Preston and Sellars up on a reality show. As expected Preston is reluctant--and even more so when he's forced to take the mugging Sellars as his partner. The two take impromptu acting lessons from iconic actor/director William Shatner (playing himself) and set off to attract an audience boost the ratings become celebrities and get the bad guys in a televised reality christened Showtime. Meanwhile the evil Cesar Vargas (Pedro Damian)--whom we know is evil 'cause he hides in the shadows he's flashy and well groomed and he mumbles in an unfathomable Third World/ European accent--is stockpiling guns powerful enough to knock down houses and blow the doors off a Brinks truck.
The movie offers a few good yuks--a coke-sniffing dog an unprecedented cameo by jive-rhyming lawyer Johnnie Cochran and William Shatner satirizing William Shatner (who does this better than anybody else satirizing William Shatner). Unfortunately we've seen a lot of his funniest stuff like the scene in which he demonstrates how to roll over a car hood cop-style in the previews. Rene Russo gives an effective souped-up Lethal Weapon-type performance with her hyper pushy fast-talking network exec desperate to make her name in the industry. De Niro's straight-man comedy is in his facial expressions--or lack thereof--and Murphy is…well Murphy. It's their first outing together and they play off each other like a foul-mouthed version of Abbott and Costello (guess who plays who?). We've seen De Niro play grumpy (Midnight Run) and Murphy play obnoxious (almost everything) before. But as you may suspect it's their grade-A chemistry that holds this badly stitched predictable though occasionally funny flick together--especially in regards to the jokes on Hollywood and the current bounty of reality TV.
You can smell the gags and The Odd Couple-versus-Goldfinger plot unfolding a million miles away. You just know Preston is hiding a gun inside that Big Gulp when he goes undercover to investigate a pawn shop and you know Vargas will make bad-guy errors in judgment like staging a robbery in downtown L.A. the day after he's confronted by our star cops in a populated disco. But that may lead you to wonder why the police--who are likewise not presented as being particularly bright in this movie--weren't trailing him as Vargas is the prime suspect in the gun-trafficking subplot. Some of the comedy borders on satire but isn't played up enough for you to tell if it was meant that way or not. The action scenes are so badly edited it's hard to tell who's chasing whom until the camera cuts back to Murphy's toothy grin and a cement-faced De Niro shooting out his car window. And speaking of commercial-laden reality TV the product placement in this movie is shameless--we get a full-length commercial for Apple Computers played not once but twice.