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STUDIO: New Line Home Entertainment
MSRP: $27.95 RATED: PG-13
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
• Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel
• “Down and Dirty” behind-the-scenes featurette
• Commentary with Anthony Anderson, Jay Mohr and director Jeff Byrd
• Theatrical trailer
I’ve always been on the fence about the issue of Black actors and filmmakers as well as other minorities getting more exposure in film and television. On the one hand I absolutely believe that our entertainment media should reflect the people that it serves. But I’ve never been able to abide having diversity just for diversity’s sake. In fact, that concept usually annoys me to high heaven. Generally I don’t spend much of my otherwise action-packed life thinking about such things, but on occasion, when my brain isn’t quite as preoccupied, a topic like that will creep up in there and set up shop for awhile. Two things that will immediately set me off on this particular issue, however, are reality TV and predominantly Black cast films.
If this is sexual harrassment in the workplace, I’m filing a frickin’ claim ASAP.
As a completely irrelevant side rant to reality TV producers: for frak’s sakes get some people with skin darker than Paris Hilton wearing a spray-on tan on some of these shows. It’s a joke that I flip past the first episode of the biggest reality joke on TV – that would be The Bachelor – and see the single Jerkoff of the season pick between 24 generally gorgeous white chicks and a fine but painfully obviously token Sister or Latina or – God forbid – an Asian beauty. (Ahem) As far as the other half of the coin, I think it’s great that minorities are making headway (supposedly) in films and TV. But I don’t watch a show or a movie simply because the cast is all particularly one color. Hustle & Flow is a perfect example. The film stars black actors and is made by black filmmakers (well, except Craig Brewer). Cool. But I’m not heading out to blow my $10 on a ticket (or my $5 for the bootleg) just because of that. The buzz on that flick is that it’s pretty good. That’s what’s gonna park my ass in the theatre seat. Recently there was another predominantly Black cast film that came out which starred Hustle’s Anthony Anderson as a bigwig corporate a-hole named Malcolm King. King is going through a messy divorce and decides to kidnap himself to get out of paying his wife her half. This film has the genius title of King’s Ransom.
One of the reasons why no one ever misses a CHUD board meeting…
So was my ass in the theatre seat for this movie? Uh uh. Did I head over to Santee Alley in Downtown LA to slap up a poorly-shot Sonycam version? Nope. Chances are I wouldn’t have seen this until it was playing on Cinemax this time next year. Probably not even then. Could have been years before I ran across this little gem. So would I have missed anything? Not really. Because King’s Ransom is so contrived as to be almost laughable and the characters so weak Richard Simmons could kick their asses. And there’s enough deus ex in this flick for a dozen ‘30s movie serials. An example? King’s gold-digging wife happens to be in the same Chinese restaurant – in all of Los Angeles – that his kidnapper is at the same time and recognizes her husband’s order, subsequently following said kidnapper and finding her husband. Remember practically any Three’s Company episode where there was some inane situational misunderstanding that had virtually no chance of happening in reality but did so nonetheless for the sake of filling 22 minutes? That’s Ransom in a nutshell.
"Who’s the Last Comic Standing now, bitch?"
The story basically goes like this: Malcolm King (Anderson) is a successful yet loudmouthed corporate exec who’s in the midst of a messy divorce. His wife, Renee (Kellita Smith) is threatening to take half of everything, including his super-successful ad agency which is currently up on the auction block to a Richard Branson type who’s currently on a round-the-world balloon trip. King is nailing one of the secretaries in the office, a ditz named Peaches (Regina Hall). Peaches also has an ex-con brother named Herb (Charlie Murphy) who just got out of prison. Peaches and Herb. Cute, no? Anyway, Peaches’ boss, Angela Drake (Nicole Parker) is up for a vice presidency that King gives to Peaches instead, prompting her to immediately quit. Angela has two co-workers Brooke and Kim (Brooke D’Orsay, Leila Arcieri) she confides in and with whom she plans bad things for Malcolm. Then there’s Corey (Jay Mohr in his first token white guy role), who is a loser who works at a burger joint and lives in his chain-smoking Granny’s basement. Rounding out the cast is Andre (Donald Faison), a valet at King’s agency who has a run in and later a run-in with Peaches, and Miss Gladys (Loretta Devine), King’s personal secretary and no-bullshit-taking den mother type who keeps him out of trouble, particularly with his money.
I knew that bitch couldn’t be trusted.
When things aren’t looking too good in his divorce meetings, King decides to kidnap and ransom himself to get out of paying his wife. To do this, he enlists Peaches and Herb, whom he hasn’t met yet. Simultaneously, Angela, in order to get some payback on King for passing her over, decides to also kidnap him. She enlists Kim and Brooke to help her. Plus, knowing that King is going to plan something in order to get out of paying her, Renee also gets the idea to kidnap King to get herself a bigger piece of the pie. She enlists her pool man lover to help her. Finally, Corey, whose adopted Latina sister, Raven (Lisa Marcos), an escaped convict, is pressuring him for cash, decides to also kidnap King. If you can suspend that much disbelief then you’re golden, because from there on, the film snowboards the slippery slope of rationality into an abyss of sheer stupidity.
Rockwell was going to sue McDonalds for finding a thumb in his Egg McMuffin, but he thought, "Why not just settle it man to man?"
To wit: Herb mistakes Andre for King and kidnaps him. He spends the rest of the movie with Andre at King’s hotel hideaway thinking he is King. The real King is then kidnapped by the Pool Man. He’s then re-kidnapped in transit by Angela, Kim and Brooke; and then is re-re-kidnapped by Corey minutes later. All the while King thinks that it’s part of his plan with Peaches and Herb; and he thinks Corey is Herb, thanks to some convenient “but your sister is a different race/oh she was adopted” riff. Everybody is then engaged in their own shenanigans for the duration of the film: Andre fending off Herb’s jailhouse eyes and hooking up with Peaches; Angela, Kim and Brooke dealing with guilt and fear over prosecution for kidnapping King for five minutes; and Renee trying to track down King and Corey idiotically working the kidnapping with King blissfully ignorant that his plan was shot to hell from the get-go.
Caption A: All of a sudden, I’ve found religion.
Caption B: Hallelujah, brother!
Caption C: Psalms 74:11 – Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? pluck it out of thy bosom.
Caption D: Proverbs 19:24 – A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.
Caption E: Exodus 4:7 – And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
Along the way, Renee discovers Corey is holding King because she goes to the same Chinese restaurant that Corey is picking up an order for King. She follows him and ends up kidnapped herself. Angela and the other two hotties then also run into Corey when he stops at a pawn shop that they’re parked in front of. Meanwhile Corey goes postal on his former employer at the burger joint and the Mexican who stole his job as a mascot burger. This of course leads the police to his joint, where they rendezvous with Angela, Kim and Brooke, who ran a red light, which brought more police. Oh and there are two inept cops who get hot on the trail while coming out of (surprise) a Dunkin Donuts shop. Meanwhile, Andre gets his freak on with Peaches when she gets lonely and goes to see King at the hotel, but puts on a blindfold so she won’t actually see him.
"So you’re saying that if I do this you’ll get me in Beverly Hills Cop IV?"
Then…oh come on, who can possibly give a shit after all that? Suffice it to say, there’s so many dumbass ideas floating around this thing you more than get the feeling that the filmmakers just shot a bunch of crap, cooked it up on the AVID, hit the "random" button and churned out this dreck. This is more than confirmed by the deleted scenes. More on that later. If you like Anderson, and I do, you won’t be quite as disappointed, because he gets to do all of the things that he’s known for in this movie. Be a bombastic, over-the-top nutball who talks enough shit to fill a couple of Port-A-Potties. I also like Faison, but his character is such a throwaway here, he comes with his own twist ties. And I haven’t been up on Charlie Murphy as much until I got tuned into Chappelle’s Show recently. The biggest crime of this entire movie is that his Herb has only about five minutes of screen time. They could have lost more than half the characters here and expanded his role. Those are about the only things, small as they are, going for this flick…besides the plethora of TIG OLE BITTIES of course. God, if there is one thing to see this movie for, it’s the smorgasbord of hotness. Nicole Parker, Kellita Smith, Regina Hall, Brooke D’Orsay and Leila Arcieri, are running around this thing just being pieces o’ arse. But unfortunately, arse only goes so far. Crap goes a lot farther – in the wrong direction.
2.9 out of 10
Obscure Hollywood beauty tip #341: Ham on toast with mustard face mask.
Surprisingly, the film looks better than it plays. The transfer is good and I actually have no complaints here. Especially ‘bout them BITTIES.
7.2 out of 10
Also no complaints. The soundtrack and score is upbeat and helps to keep the thing moving along, and features a couple of jams.
7.0 out of 10
For such a stinker of a movie, you wouldn’t expect Ransom to have such a good selection of supporting materials, but it actually does. First of all, there’s over thirty minutes of deleted scenes. The good thing about this is that there’s plenty of extra stuff to see. The bad thing is that you then realize that there was so much absurd material here, that the film could have been even worse. Many of the deleted scenes are so poorly written it’s a wonder they were shot at all. And there’s so many of them that for once you won’t be demanding a director’s cut of a film.
She takes dicktation very well…
There’s also commentary by director Jeff Byrd, Anderson and Mohr. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill, but Anderson and Mohr get some good material in here and there. Even though I’ve said before that I prefer multiple commentators, particularly stars of a film, I almost wanted to hear a solo commentary by Byrd to hear him try to explain this train wreck.
There’s also the 43-minute making-of, “Down and Dirty,” which features on-set interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff. This is a good feature. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say that this feature is better than the actual movie. So what does that tell you?
7.6 out of 10
Not bad actually. Pretty much gets the point across. This is the first time I can actually remember in any review that the worst thing on the disc is the movie itself…
6.6 out of 10