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The Janky Promoters

Pic may please fans of Ice Cube if they stumble across it during its fleeting pre-homevid run.

With:
With: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Young Jeezy, Lahmard Tate, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Tamala Jones, "Lil' JJ" James Lewis, Glenn Plummer, Juanita Jennings.

Yet another project dumped by Third Rail Releasing, the Weinstein Co. subsidiary that gave us (very few of us) “Killshot” and “Outlander,” “The Janky Promoters” may please fans of top-billed Ice Cube if they stumble across the pic during its fleeting pre-homevid run. A genially slapdash, brazenly non-PC comedy in the tradition of Cube’s “Friday” franchise, “Promoters” overall is no worse, and often slightly better, than most similar fare pitched at the euphemistically designated “urban audience,” and might have sold a decent number of ducats had it not been placed in the theatrical equivalent of the witness relocation program.

Teamed once again with Mike Epps — his co-star in “All About the Benjamins” and two “Friday” installments — Cube doesn’t exactly exert himself as Russell Redds, an overly ambitious and chronically cash-strapped wheeler-dealer who tries, with only infrequent success, to promote rap concerts in beautiful downtown Modesto, Calif. It’s a tailor-made role for Cube — not surprising, considering he wrote the script — and he plays it with his familiar mix of brash-talking bluster and brow-knitting frustration.

Likewise, as Russell’s partner, Jellyroll, an even less savvy would-be impresario, Epps goes through the motions with reliable shtick — a little self-delusional swagger here, a bit of bling-flinging there, flashes of mortal terror scattered throughout.

The duo’s latest venture is a typically undercapitalized attempt to present a Modesto concert by rapper Young Jeezy (played, in a bold stroke of casting, by rapper Young Jeezy). But this enterprise serves merely as an excuse for a loose-knit series of unevenly amusing encounters with, among others, Russell’s sassy, crack-dealing mom (Juanita Jennings), a skeptical theater owner (Julio Oscar Mechoso), Young Jeezy’s prickly road manager (Lahmard Tate), Russell’s wannabe rapper son (Lil’ JJ, billed here as “Lil’ JJ” James Lewis) and a murderously jealous cop (Glenn Plummer) whose wife unwisely consorts with Jellyroll.

Pic earns its R rating: Sexual activity is frequently referenced — and, in one case, simulated just out of camera range — and quite a bit of the dialogue is profanely funny. Two of the most hilarious wisecracks — one involving Michael Vick, the other mentioning Martin Luther King Jr. — are almost shocking in their cavalier disregard for good taste.

Helmer Marcus Raboy (“Friday After Next”) keeps the pace relaxed without undue dawdling. Pic doesn’t build to a climax so much as slow down and then stop, indicating that, at some point, everyone involved simply shrugged and collectively said, “OK, that’s enough fun, let’s wrap it up and go home.” The good news is, auds should feel pretty much the same way at precisely the same point.

Tech values are passable though occasionally sloppy. The onscreen “explanation” of the title helpfully explains that “janky” is a term for “shady, untrustworthy, dishonest, despicable”; trouble is, “untrustworthy” is misspelled “untrustworty.” No, really.

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The Janky Promoters

Production: A Third Rail Releasing release of a Dimension Pictures presentation of a Cube Vision production. Produced by Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Neil Machlis. Co-producer, David K. Hebenstreit. Directed by Marcus Raboy. Screenplay, Ice Cube.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Tom Priestly; editor, Robert Ivison; music, John Murphy; music supervisor, Spring Aspers; production designer, Bradley Thordarson; art director, Robert Strohmaier; set designer, Betty Ruhl; costume designer, Dana Campbell; sound (Dolby DTS/SDDS), Walter Anderson; assistant director, Donald Sparks; casting, Kim Taylor-Coleman. Reviewed at Premiere NASA Dollar 8, Webster, Texas, Oct. 21, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Young Jeezy, Lahmard Tate, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Tamala Jones, "Lil' JJ" James Lewis, Glenn Plummer, Juanita Jennings.

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