Directed by Richard Benjamin. Starring Lisa Kudrow, Damon Wayans, Richard Benjamin, Christine Baranski, Jane Krakowski. (2003, R, 84 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003
It’s like a bad joke that turns out to be a bad movie as well: What does a Jewish American princess and a chart-topping rapper have in common? The answer is da bling-bling. Who knew the power of diamonds and minks to bridge troubled waters? Marci X exudes the familiar stench of stale comedy routinely tossed into theatres by the studios in the dog days of August when no one’s really looking anyway. There actually might be a good movie to be made from this premise, given the long history of tension, assimilation, and freedom-fighting both Jews and African-Americans have undergone in this country. Marci X is not that movie, however. The script by Paul Rudnick (In & Out) has no bite, little humor, and redundant stereotypes. The actors are solid, despite seeming reined in, and play directly to their stereotypes rather than against them, wherein they might have scratched some comic energy from the listless script. Richard Benjamin, who directs and also co-stars in the film, seems like he was a million miles away during the shooting – at least in spirit. The movie’s plot has a ripped-from-the-headlines topicality, but it’s presented in such broad and unrealistic strokes that Marci X ultimately bears no resemblance to any reality found in North America today. Marci Feld (Kudrow) plays the beloved daughter of media mogul Ben Feld (Benjamin), who is disabled by a heart attack on the eve of a Senate witch-hunt against his hip-hop record label, Felony Assault, which has just released an offensive new album by one of its top artists Dr. S (Wayans). Leading the crusade is the uptight Sen. Spinkle (Baranski). Marci compensates for her father’s illness by trying to placate the outré Dr. S, who turns out to be mostly bark with little bite. The setup practically screams with possibilities for good culture-clash humor à la Rock 'n' Roll High School, but Marci X plays the whole thing fairly straight, having us believe that everyone can fall in love and get along and shake their booty. Beam me up, Marci.