King's Ransom Movie Review

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If a truly bad movie -- like, say, Gigli -- deserves to be bashed, then a miserable, wretched, wholly unredeemable movie like King's Ransom deserves to be bashed, burned, and have its ashes scattered over Hollywood. Think of this gesture as a memorial to all the luckless filmgoers who will lose 95 minutes of their lives watching this steaming pile of dreck.

In case you need convincing, here's the setup. Malcolm King (Anthony Anderson) is a tycoon who's on the verge of selling his company for $25 million. (Apparently sales have been brisk for the company's bestselling product, "Boneagra," an erectile dysfunction medicine whose ads feature the tagline "Straight Up.") The problem is, Malcolm is in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, and his wife is determined to take him for everything he's worth. So he hatches a plan to stage his own kidnapping, demand an extravagant ransom from himself, and thereby shield his wealth from his wife. (How exactly this is going to work after the ransom is paid is never actually explained.)

In order to execute his foolproof scheme, Malcolm engages the help of his witless girlfriend, Peaches (Regina Hall), whose chief asset is her abundant booty, which the camera never hesitates to lovingly caress. Peaches, in turn, enlists her brother (Charles Q. Murphy), a recently released convict, to do the actual kidnapping. But what Malcolm doesn't know is that several other parties have hatched (real) kidnapping plans of their own. Three other parties, to be precise: his disgruntled wife and her lover, a trio of disgruntled employees, and a pathetic yokel (Jay Mohr) who has no real connection to Malcolm but does provide the film occasion to make fun of white trash.

Complications arise when Peaches's brother accidentally kidnaps the wrong guy, a valet (Donald Faison) who is masquerading as Malcolm to score chicks. This leaves the door open for the other schemers, who are more than ready to seize the opportunity. Faster than you can say Pootie Tang, Malcolm is kidnapped by his wife's lover, snatched away by the trio of angry employees, then nabbed yet again by Mohr's hapless bumpkin. The sequence is meant to be silly and fun, but even in the realm of suspended reality, the whoppers in King's Ransom are beyond belief.

All this may seem overly harsh, but it's not. King's Ransom achieves a rare form of badness. It is both blandly familiar and uniquely terrible. Every punch line has been delivered somewhere else, to much greater effect, and every plot twist is directly imitative of other, better movies, like Nine to Five and Ruthless People. Yet, at the same time, King's Ransom is in a league of its own. Surely it blows away all previous records for gratuitous cleavage shots, idiotic racial stereotypes, and unfunny menstruation jokes.

At a purely theoretical level, before the movie actually starts, King's Ransom isn't without promise. The cast boasts a roster of actors who have proven their skills elsewhere. Murphy is hilarious on Chappelle's Show, Faison is glibly funny on Scrubs, and Anderson and Mohr deliver solid comedic turns in Barbershop and Jerry Maguire, respectively. But director Jeff Byrd and screenwriter Wayne Conley give these talented performers so little to work with that King's Ransom is certain to be in the hunt for the crown jewel of bad movies in 2005.

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King's Ransom Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG-13, 2005

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