Here we go again

Summer movies fall to the lowest common denominator

by Gabriel Shapiro

Summer: Warm weather and less school (for most of us) makes this a great time of year to relax, unwind and reacquaint ourselves with the things we love, but are too busy for during the regular school year.

Unless, you love movies. Summer is Hollywood’s season to purge, and we’ve already been blasted by such outright insults as “Soul Plane,” which was too nauseating to review, and “Garfield” which even cats are smart enough to avoid.

With the myriad third-rate offerings Hollywood will roll out this summer, the question becomes less “what’s good?” and more “what sucks less than we thought it would?” So what love fills Hollywood’s toilet bowl now? What great cinema is being flushed on us this week? Will any summer movie not completely suck? Behold “White Chicks” and “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

“Dodgeball” has funny gags and competent acting, while “White Chicks” has neither. “Dodgeball” was written by one person (director Rawson Marshall Thurber), so the script flows fairly well. “White Chicks” credits the story to the three Wayans brothers unfortunate enough to be involved (director Keenen Ivory, stars Shawn and Marlon), but they needed another three writers to finish the screenplay. It’s uneven to say the least.

“Dodgeball” is a fairly straight spoof of any sports movie you can remember. Good guys, bad guys, underdogs, you know the score. What is most enjoyable are the details, little things like the dodgeball tournament being on ESPN 8 – “the ocho,” whose other regular events include lawnmower racing and flaming soccer. There are plenty of gross-out jokes – some work while others are just gross.

Vince Vaughn is more enjoyable than usual as the completely lackadaisical owner of a gym on the brink of foreclosure, and plays a great straight-man to Stiller’s over-the-top villain.

The entire supporting cast is funny, both the well-known Stephen Root, Christine Taylor and Rip Torn, and the unknown Justin Moore and Alan Tudyk. Well placed cameos by Hank Azaria, Chuck Norris, David Hasselhoff and even the man himself, William Shatner, certainly add to the fun.

It is on precisely that front that “White Chicks” utterly fails. There’s something pathetic about a room full of adults laughing at the exact same diarrhea joke that Jeff Daniels dropped in “Dumb and Dumber” and has been re-done in every waste of a comedy since.

This movie is not only bad, it’s creepy. The make-up job required to make two black actors look like the Hilton sisters (the characters are called the Wilson sisters, it even rhymes!) leaves them looking like practitioners of that weird mask-wearing fetish. It’s disturbing to look at.

The movie lumbers along, trafficking in stereotypes in vain attempts at comedy that end up falling short of producing a laugh, and end up producing a lot of head-shaking.

What do we learn from “White Chicks?” Black men want white women, black women are feisty, white women are either idiotic whores or frigid consumers, and slipping people roofies is a safe effective way to get laid, just don’t accidentally take them yourself. Please spare us.

Marlon Wayans seems bent on setting his career back a few notches with this outing, Shawn has less to lose, lets face it, he’s hot, but he can’t act, comedic or otherwise. And Keenen, the man at the helm, well, this seems like a prank a big brother would pull on his trusting younger siblings, so maybe that’s the story.

One will make you laugh but leave you feeling cheap; the other will have you breaking into the box office to demand a refund.