Picks and Pans Review: Class Act
Though it is a class act in title only, this mistaken-identity comedy is vigorous, playful and relatively inoffensive. Reid and Martin—respectively Kid 'N Play, the rappers who starred in the two House Party movies—are high school students whose records get switched so that Reid, the brains of the outfit (as well as the hair—he's the one with the corn silo 'do), has to act like a delinquent while Martin is suddenly burdened with having to act marginally civilized and intelligent ("That Shakespeare is some heavy stuff"). Neither director Randall (thirtysomething) Miller nor screenwriters John Semper and Cynthia Friedlob come up with anything very surprising from this premise. The funniest sequences involve a dialogue between Reid and Martin that gets some wordplay fun out of the black English uses of the words "def" (for "admirable") and "stupid" (also "admirable"). Abbott and Costello themselves couldn't have handled the "What!? Are you deaf?" lines better.
Outside of the convincingly thuggish Lamont Johnson and romantic interests Rogers and Karyn Parsons, though, the peripheral characters are not only mostly white but colorless. Lamest of the lame is MTV wimpmeister Pauly (Encino Man) Shore who, as a dance emcee, delivers a limp monologue that depends on his referring to women's breasts as "cones."
Miller does set a final showdown between Reid and Johnson in a show-business wax museum, which allows the boys to mistake a Pat Sajak figure for Chuck Woolery.
There is a dutiful, gleeless tone here even when things are at their most frenetic, so nobody's sides will be made to ache by this film. It's like a harmlessly diverting Saturday-morning cartoon, with the expletives undeleted and the violence producing real blood and bruises. (PG-13)
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