In the can-you-top-this sweepstakes that inspires makers of drag comedies, the Wayans Bros. have clearly hit on the screwiest gimmick yet: Two homeboy FBI agents go undercover as white women. White Chicks not only scrambles lines of race and gender but does riffs on class, sex, etiquette, high society and catfights that you wouldn't believe. Willing to do almost anything to get a laugh, director Keenen Ivory Wayans and his co-conspirators -- his brothers, co-writers and stars Shawn and Marlon -- along with a swarm of co-writers and co-producers throw everything at the screen to see what sticks. A fair amount does.
This is the kind of film that will leave many audience members groaning with laughter -- and others simply groaning. It's skit/situation comedy that exploits stereotypes with a vengeance and knows no shame in borrowing from much better movies ranging from Some Like It Hot to Tootsie. With theaters hosting such "white" comedies as "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" and The Terminal, this urban comedy -- which actually features more white actors than black -- should make clever counterprogramming. Certainly this is a smarter and much better movie than the Wayanses Scary Movie series, so boxoffice prospects look promising.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans play two hapless FBI agents and brothers, Kevin and Marcus Copeland, who have a talent for deep undercover disguises but no talent whatsoever for arresting bad guys. About the only thing their boss (Frankie Faison) trusts them to do is transport two socialite heir-heads, Brittany and Tiffany Wilson (Maitland Ward and Anne Dudek), believed to be the targets of a kidnapping, to a debutante blowout weekend in the toney seaside resort of the Hamptons.
Then a hysterical sequence involving a pampered dog and a traffic crash renders the Wilson sisters unfit to party. So the brothers decide to go undercover as the sisters. Once the two become encased in layers of paint, wigs, masks and costumes, they actually do talk and behave like the two vacuous blondes -- think the Hilton sisters -- they are impersonating. So it's off to the Hamptons, where Brittany and Tiffany encounter the sisters' hated rivals, Heather and Megan Vandergeld (Jaime King and Brittany Daniel), as well as their best gal pals (Busy Philipps, Jennifer Carpenter and Jessica Cauffiel).
From here on, what passes for a plot guides the film through a series of situations that underscore, let us say, different points of view -- black vs. white, male vs. female -- regarding music, clothes, shopping, weight gain, dancing, romancing and social climbing. The comic batting average here is not bad so long, as you don't mind singles, bunts and bases on balls rather than booming home runs. Logic is thrown to the wind, and many characters who are meant to be smart -- for instance, a supposedly ace TV reporter (Rochelle Aytes), who catches the eye of Kevin/Brittany -- must look dumb for the masquerade to work.
The set pieces come off well: A shopping excursion where Marcus/Tiffany must struggle into clothes two sizes too small; a dance-off between the rival female cliques; a date between a black superstar athlete (Terry Crews) and Marcus/Tiffany, where everything Tiffany does to gross him out turns him on; a chaotic fashion show, where the real Wilson sisters and their male replicants show up.
Marlon and Shawn Wayans, in roles they conceived for themselves, make credible white chicks. One does need to consult a program, however, to remember which one is Tiffany or Brittany. Marlon has one line, possibly the funniest in the film, that can only be funny if delivered by a black man impersonating a white woman.
Credit special effects makeup artists Greg Cannom and Keith Vanderlaan with the eerie ability to transform two thin black men into voluptuous white chicks. And credit cinematographer Steven Bernstein and designer Paul J. Peters with transforming Vancouver in the fall into the Hamptons in the summer, quite possibly the harder task.
Revolution Studios presents a Wayans Bros. production
Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Director of photography: Steven Bernstein
Production designer: Paul J. Peters
Music: Teddy Castellucci
Costume designer: Jori Woodman
Editors: Jeffrey Stephen Gourson, Stuart Pappe
Kevin Copeland: Shawn Wayans
Marcus Copeland: Marlon Wayans
Heather Vandergeld: Jaime King
Section Chief Gordon: Frankie Faison
Agent Harper: Lochlyn Munro
Karen: Busy Philipps
Latrell Spencer: Terry Crews
MPAA rating PG-13
Running time -- 107 minutes
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