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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir John Schultz|
scr Danny Jacobson, David Sheffield, Barry W Blaustein, Don Rhymer
with Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Eric Stoltz, John Leguizamo, Jon Polito, Carol Woods, Kim Chan, Ajay Naidu, Anne Pitoniak, Arnell Powell
release US 10.Jun.05, UK 2.Sep.05
05/US Paramount 1h29
Unloveable losers: Epps, Leguizamo and Cedric
In this age of remakes and sequels, here's a great opportunity inventively adapt perhaps the most influential TV sitcom (it aired 1955-1956) into a movie that reflects life in working-class New York today. Alas, there's not a hint of creativity or wit here.
Ralph and Alice Kramden (Cedric and Union) are newlyweds living in a flat downstairs from their friends Ed and Trixie Norton (Epps and Hall). Alice and Trixie dream of a proper house, but they're constantly undermined by Ralph's crazy get-rich-quick schemes, which drain the savings. Now a gorgeous duplex is available, so Ralph and Ed try to raise the deposit by converting a vintage train carriage into a tour bus, then they find an abandoned greyhound and hope it'll win big. But nothing's going to plan.
The aspirations of bus drivers, waitresses and sewer workers are interesting and noble and involving, but the filmmakers here seem to miss the entire point of the original TV show, desperately throwing lame comedy set-pieces at the screen in the hopes that one of them sparks a laugh. But they can't even get a smile. This is one of the most ill-conceived, appallingly lame comedies in recent memory. So the fact that it's based on such an iconic TV show is actually an insult.
You can't really blame the cast. We know they're capable of stronger work as actors; no one could make this script work. Leguizamo almost brings his vaguely criminal go-getter to life, although about halfway through he seems to get bored by it all, while Stoltz can't do anything with his cliched villainous property developer. But the biggest problem is that Cedric never makes Ralph a loveable loser; we hate his smarmy idiocy from frame one. The story is a complete shambles--the plot doesn't hang together at all, and is lumbered with an endless series of illogical twists, stupid asides and pointless sequences that raise bile rather than chuckles. And if it's not bad enough already, the filmmakers indulge in shameless moralising and sentimentality at the end. Embarrassingly bad.
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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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