Wednesday, March 4, 1998

Senseless

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Every once in a blue moon there comes a film so bad, so insulting and reactionary that, in all correctness, to not review it would be a public disservice. In these times of changing identity politics and racial sophistries, critical intervention is essential to the reception of any sick tale the likes of, say, Larry Clark's Kids. Cartoon character Marlon Wayans' newest vehicle, Senseless, is just such a movie.

For the uninformed, Marlon Wayans is the youngest and most wayward performer of the family that includes talk show host Keenan Ivory and comic-sometime actor Damon (The Great White Hype, Blankman). In this strange effort to follow family success, Marlon employs his exaggeratedly physical tack to play Darryl, a Stratford college student struggling to make ends meet. However respectable that premise may sound, Wayans and his cohorts manage to twist it into a "comedy" approaching Birth of a Nation in its racism.

How does this sound: An intelligent black youth offers to take a wonder drug that enhances the five senses in exchange for money to stay afloat during his final exams. When the doctor informs Darryl of his pay for volunteering, Darryl spouts, "For $3,000 you can inject me with the Ebola virus. I'm gonna be your outbreak monkey." How witty.

Said college student's "senses" become augmented by the chemical and, lo and behold, he becomes a winner, excelling in the difficult fields of the stock market, the fraternity rush and even hockey. But when Darryl exceeds the recommended dosage and his brain reacts by randomly cutting off different senses, the bullshit rises. Wayans clearly doesn't care about the comedy's upshot, so aside from disgusting toilet jokes, racist remarks and stupid gags, Senseless presents rank insults as cheap humor.

The film's chief obloquy comes when former Miss USA and native Detroiter Kenya Moore, playing (surprise, surprise) a ho, tries to seduce the new-and-improved Darryl. But since the "outbreak monkey's" sight and touch have been stripped from him, we get to watch Wayans slap Kenya's breasts and drool on himself for fun. Wow.

Two years ago, in the wake of an insult titled Set It Off, it seemed open-ended whether Hollywood writers would actually milk African Americans' social injuries as a tool for racist abuse. With the aptly titled Senseless, the verdict is in. Crap such as this deserves boycotting.

E-mail comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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