“Marci X”: Livin’ the thug life–with all the bugs

Marci X

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 23, 2003

1.5 stars

The running theme through “Marci X” is, “You’ve got to be real.” That’s what Damon Wayans’ thug rapper Dr. $ says, and what Lisa Kudrow’s pampered Marci Feld parrots back.

The thing is, there’s nothing real about the characters in this dismal comedy. Even as a satire, it fails because the filmmakers don’t understand the subject they’re satirizing.

For all its bad-boy image, rap music is a musical genre that has been mainstreamed into white society.

The shocking 1990s antics of 2 Live Crew’s wouldn’t cause anyone to blink an eye in 2003. Even boy bands grab their crotches onstage, and made-for-tween performers such as Britney Spears think nothing of stripping down to skivvies on national television.

Wayans’ songs here would make Vanilla Ice look like a menace. Even when he raps about the joy of love of the, um, back-door kind, or the power he’s wielding in his pants, his performance is more MC Hammer than Jay-Z–lots of showy glitz with little passion.

As for Kudrow, her Marci is what happened to Romy and Michelle when they got older and less adorable. Kudrow is too smart an  actress to play these roles that rely on her patented ditziness.

Marci and Dr. $ meet after a Tipper Gore-esque senator launches a protest against Dr. $’s music. The power broker apparently has no problem with his lack of talent, but she doesn’t like his naughty lyrics.

After being singled out as a perpetrator of smut, the owner of the record label has a heart attack. He tells his only child, Marci, he wishes he had a son to deal with all these problems.

Instead of hurting Marcia, his sexist comment spurs her on to do a man’s job. Never mind that she doesn’t know what that is, considering she’s never really had a job before.

The first meeting with Dr. $ sets the tone for the ridiculous plot. It’s not surprising that the daughter of the label boss and her Chanel-clad pals would find themselves watching the concert from stage right. What is unbelievable is that Marci would try to negotiate a truce with Dr. $ in between songs, and that he would carry on lengthy conversations with her.

I will ruin no one’s surprise by revealing that the animosity between this ebony and ivory couple turns into romance.

There are some funny one-liners. When Marci’s trio of pampered socialites try to show their urban hipness, they try to outdo each other with their solidarity.

“Word,” says one.

“Word up,” says another.

As for the third, she goes with, “Word Perfect.”

And when Marci asks Dr. $ the naively racist question of whether black folks make love just like whites do, he comes up with the film’s best zinger–no, they’re good at it.

Attempting to tug at heartstrings, he adds that his Mama was a slave … at Wendy’s.

Kudrow and Wayans are likeable actors who make this film somewhat watchable. Given a better script, I could buy them as a romantic pair living in Manhattan. But as a pampered princess and a rap star? No way.

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