* (out of 5)
April 22, 2005
Anthony Anderson as MALCOLM KING
Donald Faison as ANDRE
Regina Hall as PEACHES
Jay Mohr as COREY
Loretta Devine as MISS GLADYS
Kellita Smith as RENEE
Nicole Parker as ANGELA
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Jeff Byrd
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If Hell does exist, I’m sure the only movie theatre in town will be playing nothing but Anthony Anderson movies. Sure, he’s been in some decent films like “Me, Myself and Irene” and “Cradle 2 the Grave.” Even his performance in “Agent Cody Banks 2” was decent.
But when it comes to Anthony Anderson vehicles, it’s a different story. These are tortuous strips of celluloid that collectively have a better use as ipecac than entertainment.
“King’s Ransom” puts films like “Kangaroo Jack” to shame in terms of irritating characters and ridiculous plot twists. Anderson plays Malcolm King, a millionaire trying to shelter his earnings in a divorce settlement. His plan is to fake his own kidnapping and use the ransom to deplete his assets. Unfortunately, a half-dozen other people decide to kidnap him that same night.
“King’s Ransom” is meant to be a screwball comedy with crazy, quirky characters. But in this case, there are too many of these quirky characters. It’s one thing to have a comedy in which two or three groups are going for the same goal. But with no fewer than four conspiracies in which they all fall apart, things just get laughable – and not in a good way.
Classic masterpieces like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” can pull off the wild cavalcade of wacky characters. But director Jeff Byrd fumbles the ball with this one.
The casting choices are so wild that one of the strongest roles is brought to life by Charlie Murphy, the less famous brother of Eddie Murphy. It reminds me of films that starred Frank Stallone during Sylvester’s heyday.
It’s not that “King’s Ransom” doesn’t have talent behind it. There’s actually a lot of it. Many of the actors may not be huge blockbuster names, but they definitely have talent in supporting roles. Some of these actors include Donald Faison from TV’s “Scrubs,” Jay Mohr from various films (both good and bad) and Nicole Parker, who I’ve always enjoyed as an actor since her role in “Boogie Nights.”
But sadly, the talent in this movie is wasted with poorly written scenes, unfunny dialogue and ancient jokes. Aside from a healthy dose of jiggle factor, there’s little to grab onto.
The situations in the film go from the silly to the plain ludicrous. The characters have no development and don’t even act consistently within their own stories. For example, Donald Faison’s role as the horny parking attendant who ends up hooking up with Peaches (Regina Hall), Malcolm’s new VP. The lead-up to the scene is boring and uninteresting. Hall looks great as the young sex-pot, but her character is so stupid (in literal terms of brain capacity), it’s impossible to believe.
Kidnapping comedies have been good and bad over the years. One of the best ones I’ve ever seen is “Ruthless People,” and in many ways I get the feeling that the filmmakers were trying to make an urban version of this classic. However, cramming jokes down our throats is not the way to do this. There’s a finesse to comedy that is completely missed with this film.
Plus, it really is no fun watching Anthony Anderson’s ugly mug on the screen for that long.
It’s too bad no one kidnapped this film. But then again, who could you find to pay the ransom?