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“One out of every ten black males will be forced to sit through at least one ‘Growing up in the Hood’ movie in their lifetime. At least one out of five will be shot in the theater while watching the movie.” That is the spoofed statistic that greets you at the beginning of “hood movie” parody Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood. But I guarantee you that if the ‘Hood’ movie these black males are forced to watch is Don’t Be A Menace... then the number shot will be much higher. Three out of five will likely shoot themselves in the head, just to end the pain.
Three of the Wayans brothers (Marlon, Shawn and Keenen Ivory to be specific) have a long and torturous tradition of releasing onto the unsuspecting American audience some of the worst movies ever made. Whether pretending to be intelligent black men or ugly white women their work is easily some of the poorest examples of comedy unleashed on mankind. Miramax has seen fit to celebrate the Wayans’ worst atrocity by releasing an unrated version. Just what we needm more shots of Marlon’s naked rear end.
Don’t Be A Menace is an over the top, tongue in cheek psycho-safari through the ‘hood where Ashtray (Shawn) and his best friend Loc Dog (Marlon) live. Ashtray has been sent to the ‘hood by his mother when she determines that only his father (a man younger than Ashtray is – yes you heard me right - and the world’s worst role model ever) can teach him how to be a real man. Ashtray exceeds his father’s expectations by remaining unemployed, mastering the uses of the words ‘nigga’ and ‘mother-f***a’, and getting a girl pregnant all within his first week in his new home. For some reason the Wayans brothers thought all of this would be hilarious. I’m still waiting for the punchline.
Marlon Wayans will always have a special place in history as an actor capable of playing the least funny, dumbest, most obnoxious characters conceivable. Perhaps it’s type casting, but he outdoes himself as Loc Dog. Obscene, annoying, irritating, ludicrous, insulting and tedious, the character and the performance are anything but amusing. Shawn, by contrast, is once again stuck in the role of the straight man. Too bad for him, playing the straight man to Marlon’s schtick is like being the guy who has to walk behind the horses in a parade. He’s basically just there to shovel the crap.
The entire movie has all the comedy of a “Homey the Clown” sketch. (fourth brother Damon Wayans has more funny in his pinky finger than his other three brothers combined). Since most Homey bits run four minutes, it’s not saying much that the movie tries to spread the limited jokes out over an hour and a half. The other eighty-six minutes are a series of eye numbing, soul crushing, mind bending gags that are so over-the-top disgusting and racially offensive it’s hard to believe that three black guys are behind it.
Should you feel the need to inflict this blight of a movie on yourself be sure to take the following precautions. If you have any guns or sharp objects in the house, lock them up and have a neighbor hold the key. The temptation to end your own life will overwhelm you too quickly to be able to hit the stop button. Be sure to keep plenty of tissues handy. The blood will begin to stream from your eyes, ears and nose within the first ten minutes of the film. Lastly, if there’s anything else on, including old reruns of The Laurence Welk Show, do yourself a favor and watch that instead. Despite its title, this movie is a menace and should have been locked up or destroyed a long time ago.
Instead of burying or denying any kind of involvement with Don’t Be A Menace, Miramax has chosen to release a Collector’s Edition version. Why anyone would want to collect this movie is beyond me. Miramax has been re-releasing its entire library in collector’s editions but frankly, many of them don’t deserve it. Most embarrassing in general has been the lack of bonus features in these special releases, but in the case of Menace, the less the better.
The three bonus entries available add up to less than ten minutes of material. Again, that would usually be annoying but in this case it’s a blessing. A single deleted scene has been included, probably cut because the circling shaky cam cinematography induced vomiting in test audiences.
You may remember that at one time the Wayans brothers had a TV show. Menace dumped into theaters during the show’s run and there are a couple of behind the scenes featurettes shot on that set. The first bit entitled Hood Movie Gumbo talks a little about the premise of the movie and how they came up with the ridiculous title by combining words from a half dozen other Hood movies. Yes guys, you’re very clever.
The other featurette, The Wayans Brothers Behind the Scenes goes a little more in depth but isn’t any more interesting. At one point Shawn explains, “We felt like the only responsibility we had was to be funny.” Congratulations guys, you failed in ways that make the maiden voyage of the Titanic look moderately successful.
There is no reason to rent, buy, illegally download or otherwise be associated either with this movie or DVD release. Spare yourself the pain and go rent something made by the funny Wayan. Heck, even Major Payne would be a better choice.
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