Following “Connie and Carla” as this year’s second brazen “Some Like It Hot” rip-off, “White Chicks” poses zero threat to Billy Wilder’s supremacy. But as lowbrow comedies go, it pretty much delivers. While the same concept in blackface would have the PC police reaching for their weapons, this caper about two black Feds going undercover as skanky white heiresses scores more hits than misses before stumbling in the final act. More likely to pull urban audiences and women than gagfest rival “DodgeBall,” the Wayans brothers vehicle should post fierce early summer numbers, with more booty down the road on DVD.
Scripted by a team that includes director Keenen Ivory Wayans, brothers Shawn and Marlon, and writing alumni from their various television outings including “In Living Color,” the comedy skewers easy but irresistible targets in two sets of spotlight-seeking Hilton sister clones and their Hamptons debutante sorority. Most of the best jokes are at the expense of unhip white folks or vacuous, rich ho-bags, driven by reverse racial stereotyping, but the comedy saves a few digs for black dudes and their treatment of pale-skinned trophies.
Brothers Kevin and Marcus Copeland (Shawn and Marlon, respectively) are low-level FBI agents with a dismal arrest record. Amusing opening has them posing as Latino clerks at a convenience store to make a drug bust. After they arrest the wrong guys and losethe real culprits, the brothers are warned by section chief Gordon (Frankie Faison) that one more screw-up will cost them their jobs.
When a plot emerges to kidnap socialite sisters Brittany (Maitland Ward) and Tiffany Wilson (Anne Dudek), the Copelands are assigned the thankless task of escorting them safely from the airport to their Hamptons summer hangout while the brothers’ FBI rivals Gomez (Eddie Velez) and Harper (Lochlyn Munro) get to track the kidnappers.
The fragile setup that gets the Copeland boys into the Wilson sisters’ shoes hardly stands up to scrutiny. En route from the airport, Tiffany’s pampered dog causes an accident, leaving the girls with a scratched nose and a busted lip. Following a major B.F. (bitch fit), they refuse to leave their Gotham hotel suite and jeopardize their chances of making the cover of Hamptons Magazine. Not wanting to bungle their assignment, Kevin and Marcus call in their buddies on the latex disguise crew and sashay into socialite central as taller, more stacked versions of Brittany and Tiffany.
Rather than advancing the narrative in any concrete way, the comedy’s main body serves merely to accommodate a series of silly but often hilarious gags, with the faux Wilsons facing off against their ultracompetitive arch rivals Heather (Jaime King) and Megan Vandergeld (Brittany Daniel), whose father, Warren (John Heard), is a social kingpin.
Backed — in “Legally Blonde” style — by gal pals Karen (Busy Philipps), Lisa (Jennifer Carpenter) and Tori (Jessica Cauffiel), the Wilsons gain the edge, notably in a dance floor showdown where Britt and Tiff shake up the whitebread crowd with some freestyle breakdancing.
In a ho-hum romantic detour that steals shamelessly from Tony Curtis’ exploits in “Some Like It Hot,” Kevin slips out of drag and into the identity of kazillionaire pro basketballer Latrell Spencer to seduce Denise (Rochelle Aytes), a reporter with a score to settle against pere Vandergeld. More successful is the fixation of the real Latrell (Terry Crews) on Tiffany, which becomes increasingly zealous despite Marcus’ use of gross-out behavior as a deterrent.
Final stretch lapses into overplotted chaos as Gomez and Harper figure out the brothers’ undercover guise just as a clue steers them toward the real kidnapper.
Swooping in during the season’s climactic fashion show are Marcus’ controlling wife (Faune Chambers), the real Wilson sisters, the kidnappers’ stooges and the brothers’ fellow Feds, while the resentful Vandergeld sisters bite back from being shut out with a revenge plan involving Bjork-esque swan dresses and a “Carrie” blood-bucket homage.
Messy wrap-up comes together serviceably enough, however, with the boys gaining female-friendly knowledge about how men regard women.
Squeezed into microskirts and pastel T-shirts emblazoned with tags like “Fierce Bitch” or “Dude, Where’s My Couture?” the Wayans brothers look like statuesque blond aliens, their blue contact lenses giving them a freakishly dead-eyed look. But while there’s nothing subtle going on, they milk every comic opportunity for surprisingly consistent dividends, whether it’s physical (like chasing down and tackling a bag-snatcher) or verbal (demanding Midol and a Snickers for PMS relief). Some of the best laughs come from the brothers’ difficulties adapting to the white world.
And while there’s plenty of fart humor to keep the frat boys happy, appealing backup of a slightly more sophisticated model comes from Philipps (playing the polar opposite of her “Freaks and Geeks” character), Cauffiel and Carpenter. Crews also has moments, while King and Daniel make Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie seem demure.
Keenen Ivory Wayans’ direction is functional enough, and craft contributions are clean down the line, with Jori Woodman’s fun costumes and the transformative makeup by Greg Cannom and Keith Vanderlaan deserving a mention. Soundtrack juggles the expected mix of white and black tunes to keep things moving.