Damon Wayans and his younger brother Marlon Wayans make a terrific comedy team in “Mo’ Money.” Loosely structured film has trouble meshing its very funny gag scenes with rough action footage, but it should earn mucho change from escapist fans.
Following up his solid turn co-starring opposite Bruce Willis in “The Last Boy Scout,” Damon Wayans exhibits plenty of irreverent comic invention as star, writer and exec producer here.
He needs a stronger hand than action helmer Peter Macdonald (“Rambo III”) to fully realize a satisfying feature film beyond a mere collection of funny sketches.
He casts himself as a ne’er-do-well street punk who sets a poor role model for younger brother (Marlon Wayans). Their father was a cop who died in the line of duty, with his partner Joe Santos trying in vain to set the Wayans brothers on the right track.
To pursue a lovely romantic interest (Stacey Dash), Damon gets a job in the mailroom for her credit card company. Soon the Wayanses have cooked up a scam using uncanceled credit cards to finance a shopping spree. Coincidentally (and this is where Wayans’ script starts to fall apart), cop Santos is investigating a murder that’s linked to a much larger credit card scam at the same company.
Evil exec John Diehl is the ruthless mastermind who soon blackmails Damon into becoming his reluctant henchman. Climax of Damon using his street smarts to act like his late father and collar the criminal is telegraphed many reels ahead but well staged in a showy, violent finale.
Between the killings and heavy-duty action setpieces, “Mo’ Money” comes to life as expertly conceived and executed burlesque bits. Damon and rubber-faced Marlon work very comfortably together and even pull off such difficult routines as posing as gay lovers to humiliate (and scam) a white jewelry store clerk.
Damon has written many colorful characters, both black and white, including a tall, aggressive co-worker (delightfully played by Almayvonne) who sets her sights romantically on each of the brothers.
He’s persuasive as an action hero, too, but the action here is not convincingly dovetailed with the comedy.
Marlon shows athletic grace and is perfect as a sidekick, adding fuel to his rumored casting as Robin in an upcoming “Batman” sequel.
The green-eyed Dash is a dreamy love interest, and Diehl is perfect as a smiling villain.
Film is well-made, though fancy wipes and transitions don’t mask the absence of a strong narrative line. Song score by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, featuring such top performers as Janet Jackson, Luther Vandross and Public Enemy, is an important element in the concoction.