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King's Ransom

I’m sure there’s a good excuse for this movie being made. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical reason why anyone would approve a script this bad, especially since it’s written by the man whose only other credit is writer for the “Kenan and Kel” show. I’m also certain there must be an explanation for someone banking on Anthony Anderson as leading man. Unfortunately, the only responses I can think of to any of the above involve mental illness, blackmail, and the Panamanian underground poodle trade.

Malcolm King is a jackass. Apparently it’s an important plot point. The entire first ten minutes of the movie are devoted to establishing that single fact. He’s also a rich jackass. As the founder of his own marketing firm he made millions producing creepy ads for male enhancement drugs. Somewhere along the way the woman he married realized just what a jackass he was and decided it was time for a divorce. Faced with the prospect of losing half his fortune, King devises a plan to save his cash by kidnapping himself and holding himself for ransom. To top it all off, three other groups of people have determined that kidnapping Malcolm King and holding him for ransom is the answer to all their problems as well. Everyone tries to commit the crime on the same night. Unfunny chaos ensues.

To put it simply, King’s Ransom is about a bunch of truly stupid people trying to outwit even more stupid people by concocting completely stupid plans to steal money from a man so utterly stupid it’s a wonder he has the money in the first place. You’d think at some point all that stupidity might add up to something funny by default. Not even close. The movie ends up being a poorly stitched together version of a Nickelodeon comedy for semi-grown ups.

The concept behind it doesn’t seem to be the problem here. No doubt in the hands of a capable writer, more experienced director, and a cast of seasoned character actors this kind of raucous farce could have been entertainingly clever. Instead, as if helmed by a group of horny thirteen year-olds, the entire show boils down to cheap laughs, infantile sex jokes, ridiculously gratuitous booty shots topped off with flat ethnic and religious gags.

The only thing worse than trying to keep track of the movie’s various meandering plot threads is watching the actors languish through scene after scene of painfully unfunny setups and dialogue. About one third of the cast must have been blackmailed into playing their roles. Among them are the usually clever Jay Mohr and Donald Faison. How they got sucked into this I’ll never know.

I’m convinced the other two thirds of the cast got their porn audition location mixed up with the King’s Ransom casting call. Yes, the acting is that bad. It’s the kind of movie where they begged to get Eddie Murphy but got Charlie Murphy instead. The only slightly redeeming performance comes in one scene where Jay Mohr beats the snot out of a guy dressed in a hamburger costume. You can really feel his frustration at being stuck in this film.

You can’t call King’s Ransom a comedy because it just isn’t that funny. The only thing left to call it is an insult to theatre audiences everywhere and embarrassment to anyone associated with the film. There’s no reason why this movie escaped a direct-to-video release where it could languish in obscurity on the shelves of Hollywood Video.