There is something almost infuriating about the cynicism displayed by the makers of "The Wash," a mild and lazy comedy designed for quick play-off in urban markets. Pic, which opened Nov. 14 without press previews, is a sloppy and shoddy piece of work, filled with just about every cliche and caricature common to low-budget, low-brow comedies with predominantly African-American casts.

There is something almost infuriating about the cynicism displayed by the makers of “The Wash,” a mild and lazy comedy designed for quick play-off in urban markets. Pic, which opened Nov. 14 without press previews, is a sloppy and shoddy piece of work, filled with just about every cliche and caricature common to low-budget, low-brow comedies with predominantly African-American casts. Producers obviously felt they didn’t need to provide anything more substantial or original to wring cash from target aud. But spotty B.O. may prove them wrong.

Rapper-actors Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg don’t exactly stretch themselves in lead roles as under-achieving roomies who are chronically strapped for cash, but rarely at a loss for good dope and foxy ladies. When Sean (Dre) loses his job at a Foot Locker store, Dee Loc (Dogg) encourages his buddy to join him at a nearby car wash where he works and on the side, sells grass.But when Sean approaches Mr. Washington (comic George Wallace), the wash’s gruff owner-operator, for an entry-level job, he winds up being hired as an assistant manager. In this kind of movie, ambition is never a good thing; Sean quickly alienates Dee Loc and his lackadaisical fellow workers by encouraging the guys to do an honest day’s work.

Writer-director DJ Pooh (“3 Strikes”) doesn’t provide much in the way of narrative. “The Wash” unfolds as a series of casually aimless episodes, loosely connected with a slender premise and primarily set in and around the car wash. Pooh got away with a similar sort of shaggy-dog storytelling in his genuinely funny script for “Friday.”

Here, however, he cruises on empty. Pic tries to wring laughs from the jivey word-play and broadly comic hijinks of the car wash ensemble. Trouble is, even the actors who manage to make vivid impressions — Wallace as the blustering Mr. Washington, Angell Conwell as a sexy-ditzy cashier, Tommy “Tiny” Lister as a mild-mannered ex-con — are limited by one-note roles. Others tend to fade into a blur.

Something like a plot appears in final third of “The Wash,” as Mr. Washington is held for ransom by a thick-witted group of kidnappers (including Slim, a dim bulb played by writer-director Pooh). By that point, however, it’s too late to do the pic much good. Cameos by Shaquille O’Neal and Tommy Chong don’t help, either. But for those who have always wanted to see Pauly Shore tied up and trapped in the trunk of a car — and you know who you are — “The Wash” offers at least one good gag.

Tech values would require significant improvement to qualify as second-rate; lensing is especially poor. But wall-to-wall soundtrack of rap and hip-hop singles (including numbers by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, of course) will doubtless generate CD sales.

For the record: “The Wash” is neither a remake of, nor a sequel to, “Car Wash” (1976).

The Wash

Production

A Lions Gate Films release of a Lithium Entertainment production. Produced by DJ Pooh, Phillip Atwell, Kip Konwiser. Executive producers, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg. Co-producer, Jeremiah Samuels. Directed, written by DJ Pooh.

Crew

Camera (color), Keith Smith; editor, Jack Hofstra; music, Camara Kambon; music supervisor, Joel C. High; production designer, Albert Cueller; art director, Steve Ralph; costume designer, Tracey White; sound (Dolby DTS), Stephen Halbert; associate producers, Donna Chavous, Rick Freeman; assistant director, Don Wilkerson. Reviewed at Cinemark Tinseltown Westchase, Houston, Nov. 14, 2001. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Sean - Dr. Dre
Dee Loc - Snoop Dogg
Mr. Washington - George Wallace
Antoinette - Angell Conwell
Bear - Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.
DeWayne - Bruce Bruce
Jimmy - Alex Thomas
Face - Shawn Fonteno
C-Money - Lamont Bentley
Vickey - Shari Watson
Lil' Dee - Arif S. Kinchen
Juan - Demetrius Navarro
Mickey - John Basinger
Ronald - Rashaan Nall
Wayne - Alvin Joiner
Slim - DJ Pooh
Also with: Pauly Shore, Shaquille O'Neal, Tommy Chong.

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