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Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Underclassman

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2005 at 12:00 AM

Meant as a vehicle to deliver young actor Nick Cannon (Drumline) to headliner status, this lame comedy just limps along like a tricycle with bent rims.

As fast-talking street-smart Los Angeles cop Tracy Stokes, the spastic Cannon does his level best to emulate Chris Tucker, and almost manages to succeed, in terms of sheer obnoxiousness and syllable-per-second delivery. From the opening chase scene ripped off from Beverly Hills Cop, the movie demonstrates a total dearth of new ideas, including a 21 Jump Street rehash of a plot and tired fish-out-of water gags.

Stokes looks like a recent refugee from puberty and so earns an undercover assignment at an Orange County prep school, with the goal of flushing out drug dealers. As decreed in the hack cop comedy handbook, the brash Tracy is constantly at odds with his fatherly boss (Cheech Marin, though you’ll be excused if you have a hard time buying Tommy Chong’s formerly perpetually stoned partner as an authority figure).

Once on campus, our hero manages to keep his profile low by instantly clashing with and then befriending the school’s vaguely Aryan super jock clique, led by pretty boy Rob (Shawn Ashmore, X2). Tracy also starts hitting on his sexy Spanish teacher Karen (Roselyn Sanchez) who, in a nod to Mary Kay Letourneau, seems all too open to his advances. In an apparent attempt to blanket the screen in stereotypes, there’s also a clever Asian cop and her oafish donut-chomping partner, and a sinister British principal with sharp, cold diction.

Between numerous extreme sports stunts and toilet jokes, Cannon lets loose with a ceaseless stream of wisecracks, and mugs for the camera so criminally that he should be charged with assault and battery against the viewer. Cannon is a triple threat (literally), serving as star, producer and writer; if the film is even remotely successful, the prospect that he may return to produce even more of this crap is frightening indeed.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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