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.
While driving on a moonlit canyon road Los Angelenos Ellie (Christina Ricci) and her teenage brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) are attacked by some kind of giant wolf. They escape with their lives but are somehow altered by the accident. Boy are they ever. The career-driven Ellie and scrawny Jimmy suddenly find themselves with super strength and dexterity an undeniable sexual allure to those around them and heighten senses. They can smell human blood--everywhere. Uh oh. Think it's time to get out the sterling silver and melt them down into bullets. Of course Ellie and Jimmy can't deny the changes happening to them and soon find out that their werewolf encounter wasn't necessarily all that random. Still they aren't too keen on feeling the effects as their bodies painfully morph into flesh-ripping werewolves. They decide they have to solve the mystery and break the curse before it completely consumes them. Oh c'mon what's a little curse among friends?
Just like the Scream series Cursed is at least bolstered by a young hip cast even if most of them are wasted. Eisenberg (Roger Dodger) has the most fun as the geeky teenager who sort of likes his newfound powers. With his hair all mussed up and sexy Jimmy goes from a nobody in high school and to a hot-ticket item. Apparently if you didn't know this the whole burgeoning werewolf-sexual-attraction thing revolves around changing your hairstyle. While Ellie lets hers down Ricci is unfortunately a bit stiff as the supposedly tempting soon-to-be she-wolf. It's as if the actress knows how weak the script is. Joshua Jackson (so charismatic as Pacey from TV's Dawson's Creek) too seems to be going through the motions as Ellie's mysterious new boyfriend with a deep secret (clue: his hair is perfect). Judy Greer (13 Going on 30) however nearly steals the show chewing up the scenery--literally and figuratively--as a snide public relations agent with a mean jealous streak.
Movies about werewolves on a whole are pretty damn cool. It's all about how the person gets "infected" and slowly transforms from human to werewolf. Of course there's the original classic The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr. and then the contemporary ones including An American Werewolf in London and The Howling (we don't count the tepid Wolf). Even Underworld's look at the ongoing feud between werewolves and vampires is at the very least an original idea. So one would think an updated werewolf story would be right up the alley of horror master Wes Craven and his Scream partner Kevin Williamson. It's not. Cursed's main problem is the jejune and derivative script. Wannabe hipster Williamson who also created the terminally chic Dawson's Creek tries to infuse the film with his usual twisty aren't-I-great-at-writing-cool-teen-speak? style. But this time around it only falls flat. Craven makes up for it a little with well-placed scare tactics and slick special effects but Cursed can't quite measure up to its werewolf predecessors.
November 15, 2002 4:05am EST
Sascha Petrosevitch (Steven Seagal) is an undercover FBI agent posing as an international car thief. When Sascha and his partner in crime Nick Frazier (Ja Rule) get busted by the Feds Sascha agrees to serve time at the newly refurbished Alcatraz in order to keep his cover. The prison happens to house a criminal by the name of Lester (Bruce Weitz) who robbed an armored vehicle of some $200 million worth of gold that has never been recovered. A group of mercenaries calling themselves "the 49ers" decide it would be a good idea to break into the prison and somehow force Lester to divulge the booty's whereabouts. When their plan backfires they begin taking hostages--including Justice June McPherson (Linda Thorson). To save the day Sascha must rally the inmates against the commando force. Half Past Dead is a stock actioner complete with lame story flashy stunts and lots of folks pointing guns at one another. It is also a typical Seagal pic so if you have ever watched any--including the Under Siege movies--you've seen this one too.
Once again Seagal (Exit Wounds) is the archetypal defender but instead of portraying a brooding silent hero he simply comes across as bored. Or maybe this is just Seagal's rendition of what happens to a man after he flatlines for 22 minutes. Seagal's partner in crime Nick is played by rapper-turned-actor Ja Rule (The Fast and the Furious). The two actors barely have any chemistry and the "brotherly" relationship they talk about incessantly never comes through on screen. Morris Chestnut (Like Mike) plays Donny aka 49er One the leader of the mercenaries. It was a refreshing change to see Chestnut--who has played nice-guy roles in a throng of romantic comedies such as The Brothers Two Can Play That Game and The Best Man--portraying a sociopath with absolutely no redeeming qualities. He does it charmingly well. As Chestnut's fellow commando 49er Six Nia Peeples manages to create a character that despite her tiny stature is convincingly intimidating. Tony Plana is exceptional as the bad-ass prison warden El Fuego; it's too bad his character has such a small role in the film.
With this movie actor/screenwriter Don Michael Paul who appeared in a bevy of little-known films in the late '80s and early 90's makes his directorial debut. It's obvious that Paul put more focus and energy into the film's visuals than into the story. Half Past Dead's new Alcatraz setting is ultra slick complete with state-of-the-art execution chambers yet still retains the dark and gritty feel that a prison should. But while Paul has chosen all the "right" ingredients to build an action flick he hasn't put enough thought into the story's logistics. In one scene for example Seagal parachutes out of a helicopter that's only about 200 feet above sea level. It's hard to buy into a stunt that is so far from plausible. Furthermore the proliferation of buddy action movies has simply grown tiresome. Like its many predecessors Half Past Dead tries to draw laughs and create chemistry by pairing two opposite characters and while that worked for Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour it fails miserably between Seagal and Ja Rule. Viewers will only cringe when Nick tries to teach Sascha the Ebonics version of all right ("aight").