After Boyz ‘N the Hood gained critical and commercial success a wave of similar and often powerful film followed in its trail. Most notably of the bunch Menace II Society, helmed by the supremely talented brotherly directing duo of Allen and Albert Hughes. Unfortunately, these spawned a sub-genre of knock off titles that veered more towards the Blaxploitation vehicles of the past than the thoughtful movies they set out to emulate. So, after lampooning Blaxploitation movies in I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, the Wayans brothers (sans patriarch Keenen Ivory) have again chosen a ripe target to satirize. The result is uneven at best.
A naive young black male named Ashtray (Shawn Wayans) is forced to move to South Central, Los Angeles with his father, who happens to be younger. Now, back in the hood Ashtray’s gangster cousin Loc Dog (Marlon Wayans) gets him mixed up in a murder case. Meanwhile, Tray’s love affair with a promiscuous street poet Dashiki (Tracey Cherelle Jones) inspires the mixed up young man to get his life together. Except, her dangerous ex-boyfriend Toothpick (Darrel Heath) has other plans for Ashtray. Other oddball characters include a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking grandma (Helen Martin), and a black militant, who only dates white women.
The visual and verbal jokes come fast and I’d say less than half are successful. I will admit that a few gags did indeed make me laugh. However, I mostly just smiled and nodded in recognition of the genre troupes being parodied. This isn’t the Wayans brothers at their best, the peak of their powers would be the spot-on bulls-eye Scary Movie. Dont Be a Menace… produces its biggest chuckles in first 30 minutes, before the monotony sets in.
Director: Paris Barclay
Stars: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Tracey Cherelle Jones