For greatness in the rap-satire genre, rent Fear of a Black Hat. If mediocrity is more your style, try CB4. But if mind-numbingly awful jabs as fresh as the idea of reality programming are your thing, then by all means, disregard your mental well-being and watch Marci X.
It’s like a live-action version of a South Park episode, equally irreverent but nowhere near as intelligent or subversive. It is yet another victim of the movie delay, having drawn flies as finished product on Paramount Pictures’ shelves for more than two years.
But Marci X still would have been a turkey even in the decade-old day of Black Hat and CB4, even if stars Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans came cheaper then. As the cultural punchlines get progressively current, you can almost see the revision date stamps from Paul Rudnick’s screenplay appearing onscreen.
Wayans plays Dr. S, a gangster rapper with an unruly Afro and selections such as “The Power in My Pants” and “Shoot Your Teacher.” His saucy lyrics urge a Tipper Gore-esque senator (Christine Baranski) to boycott both Dr. S and his record label’s owner, Ben Feld (Richard Benjamin, showing his tendencies for masochism by not only directing but doing a confused-old-man acting job).
Ben falls ill and the duty of reining in Dr. S falls on daughter Marci (Kudrow), a Jewish-princess stereotype who feels obligated to prove herself to her father.
Wayans is a waste, wandering around the movie with a bewildered stare and using a faux-Mike Tyson voice. No better is Kudrow, whose million-dollar-per-episode paydays on Friends must provide one heck of an ante for her and her co-stars’ seemingly endless bet on who can make the worst movies. As bad as Marci X is, Matthew Perry would still take that $6 million payday for Serving Sara.
The ads for the film emphasize her culture clash with Dr. S, but not the fact it’s a semi-musical or a romantic comedy. They’re only unexpected surprises, not welcome ones.
One would expect better from veteran movie musician Marc Shaiman, considering he wrote the riotous songs from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. But aside from a humorous boy-band anthem about abstinence (again, a jab South Park has done better), the lyrics are nowhere near the caustic level they should be.
And to use the word “chemistry” to describe what happens between Kudrow and Wayans would insult the science. Their smooches are neither passionate nor particularly sensible given the prior plot points, just weird.
It’s not completely laugh-free, as the wry wit Rudnick brought to the Addams Family movies and In & Out occasionally surfaces. The bad news is that Marci X feels ungodly long. The only good news is that at 85 minutes, it eats up less of your life than it would seem.