Totally cubular

Sean McGrath

I had a chance to sit down with Ice Cube and Mike Epps in Chicago and speak to them about their latest movie, All About the Benjamins.

Benjamins, a “buddy” pic follows an unlikely pairing of a bail-bondsman (Cube) and a small-time hustler (Epps) as they try tracking down several million dollars.

“I like gangster movies. I’m into comedies. I got a twisted sense of humor. I like it dark, but kinda based in reality still. I was a fan of Sidney Pottier, Bill Cosby. Movies like Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again. Those movies had a tone to them that we definitely tried to capture, with a 2000 flavor to them. Dealing with a dark side of life, in a light-hearted manner-that’s good entertainment.”

Regarding tips and tactics of the trade, Cube said he learned a lot through John Singleton (director of Boyz in the Hood). On David Russell, who captained Three Kings, Cube laughed, “Man, that dude is strange. Working on that film was kinda confusing.”

Labeled an ‘urban comedy’ by the press, Mr. Cube defended Benjamin’s demographic targeting. “To me when they say that, it’s in the same way as ‘target audience’ [is used]. These are just bullshit words to me. This movie (Benjamins) can sit with any movie. Anywhere, any audience. That’s just labels that companies always wanna use, just to warn people that there might be more than one black star in the movie. To me, ‘urban’ is the world, everywhere is urban. But if they were just to say ‘black comedy’ that means ‘don’t see it in the theater, wait ’til it comes out on video. So I don’t like that,” Cube chuckles. “Even though I produced this, we’re dealing with a Time-Warner company. They’re gonna do it how they wanna do it, no matter how much you bitch. They might be nice to you in the room, but like them, I do think this movie has great cross-over potential.”

The absence of any love story to this film is something Cube shrugs off with ease, “To me love movies are boring. I hate them, they suck. They don’t turn me on, I rarely touch on them in my movies.” However, Epps had a different perspective, “the love interest I had in the movie (beauty Eva Mendes), I love it! She turned me on, it was fun working with her. I’m gonna tell everybody in the hood I hit it, when I didn’t.”

On Chris Tucker’s jump to fame in comparison to the slow climb it’s been for Epps, he concedes it was all a matter of timing. Friday After Next Friday was bumped back after Sept. 11th. “If Bin laden hadn’t done that shit, I’d be rich. No man, I’m serious!”

The mixture of comedy and ultra violence is something Benjamins exudes at a furious pace. Cube conclusively said, “We want that reaction out of the audience. We want you laughing one minute, squirming the next.”


Benjamins opens this Friday.