By Reed Canaan
In 2004, Facebook was launched as a social networking site at Harvard, the final episode of “Friends” aired, and George W. Bush was re-elected president of the United States. Best of all, “White Chicks” was released.
Everything about this movie screams early 2000’s. The fashions, the hair, the flip phones, the soundtrack with early Maroon 5 and Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” It practically could have been a Disney Channel Original Movie during the epoch of “The Cheetah Girls,” “Cow Belles” and “Twitches” — except this movie earns its PG-13 rating. That’s one of the biggest reasons people should love to hate it.
“White Chicks” is a DCOM’s older cousin. It’s cruder, it’s bolder, but its target audience is about the same: preteens old enough to understand the raunch, but young enough to laugh at its ridiculous farting scenes.
For those unfamiliar with this ridiculous representation of the early 2000’s, “White Chicks” is about Kevin and Marcus Copeland (Shawn and Marlon Wayans), two FBI agents who, through a contrived series of events, must go undercover as the rich, white Wilson sisters. Much of the humor in the movie comes from reverse “She’s the Man” moments as the men attempt to ensure that their gender isn’t discovered. They go through a barrage of stereotypically female leisure activities — shopping, sleepovers and singing along to Carlton in open-topped cars.
Race-related humor also plays a huge role in driving the comedy. Differences in race are overemphasized, but in a self-aware and obvious way. Whether some of the jokes are in good taste or not is certainly up to the viewer’s discretion, but the movie certainly goes there.
The film also spends significant time poking fun at elite, white, American society. One of the benefit dinners the “Wilson sisters” attend is the SNOB dinner — the Southhamptons Nuclear Opposition Benefit, of course. One of the Wilsons’s newfound friends complains that she wasn’t selected to be the actress in the latest herpes drug commercial. It’s glorious farce.
All of this isn’t to say that the film contains any high-brow humor, or to imply that it is particularly sophisticated in any way. In fact, its most compelling element is perhaps the completely senseless yet sickeningly quotable one-liners. “Ex-squeeze me?” and “I’m gonna have a B.F.” (that’s a bitch fit, not a boyfriend) have proven timeless classics, and for good reason. They’re ridiculously memorable. Many jokes in the film are also executed literally. The ice cream man sells ice cream, not drugs. One man’s hookup from the night before truly shows up the next day in a wheelchair. Again, you have to admire the film’s commitment to putting a gag in practically every scene.
What “White Chicks” lacks in sophistication, it makes up for by completely embracing the effervescent DCOM-esque genre, elevating its absurdities in a self-aware way. Whatever your opinion of its jokes and gags, you have to admit it is forever unforgettable.
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