For the last few years, the prevalent theme in African American cinema has been to show how it really is, growing up in the 'hood. John Singleton's "Boyz N the Hood" and the Hughes Brothers' "Menace II Society" are probably the two most significant examples of this trend, but there are many others.
Despite the serious subject matter, there's been enough material put out that someone thought it was ripe for a parody. So here comes "Don't be a Menace to South Central While Drinking your Juice in the 'Hood" as the new spoof of these "growing up in the 'Hood" movies. It stars the Wayans Brothers, Shawn and Marlon.
Shawn plays Ashtray, a play on the name of the lead character of "Boyz N the Hood." Marlon plays Loc Dog, probably a mix of rappers Tone Loc and Snoop Doggy Dogg, and the crazy killer O-Dog from "Menace II Society."
Several scenes were lifted straight out of both of those movies, as well as from "Poetic Justice" and a few others. Of course, there's a twist, although not always a funny one. As with any spoof movie, the gags are hit or miss, and you really need to have seen the source material to get most of them. Although it starts off fairly strong, the joke batting average ought to keep them in the minor leagues.
One of the few bits that works is Keenen Ivory Wayans' cameo appearance. Whenever the movie starts getting preachy, he comes by and yells, "Message!" to hit you over the head with it even further.
Shawn and Marlon also helped write the screenplay, and Keenen Ivory was co-Producer. But despite the efforts of the prolific Wayans Brothers, "Don't be a Menace" just has too much trouble trying to make fun of a subject that's very hard to make fun of. Don't be a paying customer for "Don't be a Menace."
Copyright 1996 Alex Lau
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