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MOVIE REVIEW

A socialite in the hip-hop world

'Marci X' tries to get a gangsta rap superstar to clean up his act in a comedy that may be past its prime.

August 25, 2003|Gene Seymour | Newsday

"Marci X" purees all the public and political controversies swirling around hip-hop over the last decade and soft-serves the mixture in a drippy container. Despite the occasional topical reference to President Bush and Sen. Clinton, this movie is, like, so eight years ago, it isn't funny.

Well, maybe sometimes it's funny. Screenwriter Paul Rudnick, better known to Premiere magazine readers as Libby Gelman-Waxner, always serves up a few zingers to keep you from drifting off. Those with high thresholds for low comedy might even like the discount-house humor at the expense of teen-boy singing groups and blue nose politicians like Sen. Spinkle (Christine Baranski), who's on the warpath against media mogul Ben Feld (Richard Benjamin, who also directed).

One of Feld's subsidiaries, a rap record label run by a convict, has just released an ultra- raunchy disc by its star rapper Dr. S (Damon Wayans). The outcry against the disc and his corporation has sent Feld literally to the hospital. Marci (Lisa Kudrow), Feld's doting, ditzy daughter, wants to help. Feld says he wishes he had a son.

Ooh! That plot point hurts Marci right in her pert self-esteem! She'll show daddy! She and her posse of socialite pals venture way uptown to Harlem to coerce the doctor to help her spin a newer, cleaner image. At which point, you start trying to talk yourself into thinking that the movie isn't going to start getting tacky and obvious.

Why bother hoping at all? Well, maybe because of Kudrow, who most other times is given a fair chance to show what she can do with a movie. She and Wayans have just enough chemistry to make you wonder what they'd do with something a tad more, well, "real," as the movie keeps saying.

But don't go looking for authenticity here, not unless it's authentic schlock like the all-too inevitable set piece of Dr. S both scandalizing and charming the swells at a charity ball. It all seems so quaint now that, in "real" life, even Snoop Dogg has a nice suburban crib all his own.

*

`Marci X'

MPAA rating: R, for language and sexual content

Times guidelines: Vulgarisms, humor at everyone's expense

Lisa Kudrow...Marci

Damon Wayans...Dr. S

Richard Benjamin...Ben Feld

Christine Baranski...Sen. Spinkle

A Paramount Pictures release of a Scott Rudin production. Director Richard Benjamin. Producer Scott Rudin. Executive producer Steve Nicolaides. Screenplay by Paul Rudnick. Cinematographer Robbie Greenberg. Editor Jacqueline Cambas. Costume designer David C. Robinson. Production designer Therese DePrez. Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.

In general release.

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