When I pitched this column, the very first request I got was to cover the Wayans Brothers’ 2004 film White Chicks. This came as no surprise, as not only are scenes from the movie etched into modern pop culture thanks to Vine and TikTok, but the idea of a movie….just feels dated, doesn’t it?
Before we continue, this article is not going to be a discussion of “whiteface” vs blackface and whether or not they’re just as bad. Blackface is obviously worse. There exists no historical or racially insensitive context for whiteface like there does for blackface, and I’m only mentioning it now because it’s the elephant in the room. No, the premise of White Chicks hasn’t aged well. No, it is not comparable to blackface. Alright, on with the parade.
The movie starts and it’s instantly dated; Shawn and Marlon Wayans play undercover cops Kevin and Marcus, respectively, and the opens with them disguised as Cubans trying to stop a drug bust. The over-the-top caricature is enough to make you cringe, not just because it’s offensive, but also because it’s so over-the-top and doesn’t come full circle or become funny again. This is essentially the whole movie in a nutshell.
The plot honestly doesn’t matter, it goes exactly as you’d expect it to.
The two main characters are FBI agents who botch a bust job and their next make-or-break mission requires them to go undercover. Everyone falls for it, Hilarity™ ensues, they mess up something major, get fired, plot twist reveals the true enemy, they get serious, do the job correctly, reveal their true identities to everyone inadvertently anyway, get their jobs back, happy ending, roll credits.
It’s paint by numbers and full of tried-and-tested cliches, with the only hook being the whole “black men playing white girls” thing. There are a couple side plots involving Marcus’s wife who thinks he’s cheating, Kevin trying to stay undercover and win over a journalist, and Terry Crews trying to win over Marcus disguised as Tiffany, but those go exactly like you think they will. If you’ve seen 48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, Central Intelligence, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, or Beverly Hills Cop, then not only have you seen this movie before, but you’ve seen it done better before.
Quick side note: Terry Crews is the best part of this movie and it’s not even close. The funniest scene is the one everyone knows, the one of Crews singing along with Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.”
There are a couple lines here and there that made me go, “okay, you got me,” but nothing that induced out and out laughter, and for a movie as overtly goofy and over-the-top as this, that’s a damn shame. Its script is as generic and played out as one would expect from a Wayans Brothers film. The jokes are never funny and hardly ever memorable, and not even charisma machine Terry Crews can save this thing from being as milquetoast as it ultimately is. Most of the jokes in the film are either gross-out or dick and ball gags.
The scene where Terry and Marlon are on a dates is one of the worst film scenes I have ever seen. It’s just Marlon being as gross as possible, chewing off a hangnail in his toe and chewing way too much food with his mouth open, and it’s about as funny as sepsis. The film never gets that bad outside of this, but it never gets much better. Every joke they make is always the obvious one. You see it coming from a mile away, and then instead of subverting your expectations, they just do the joke anyway and hope they pulled a funny enough face for you to laugh at it.
Busy Phillipps and Jennifer Carpenter are also in this movie, but they don’t have career-highlight performances or anything. They just play into the Paris Hilton archetype of the time and don’t do much outside of that.
Overall, White Chicks is a movie with a very clear expiration date; June 23, 2004. There is a very good reason people only remember the one yo mama joke (you know the one) and Terry Crews singing “A Thousand Miles,” and it’s because the premise of the movie is weird enough to be memorable enough, but the scripting of the idea itself isn’t well-written or made with the intention of existing outside of its time.
It’s a movie and comedic style you can tell Shane Dawson got a lot of inspiration from for his early YouTube videos, and that is NOT a compliment. If you’ve never seen White Chicks and you’re morbidly curious, I won’t stop you from watching it, but I would never recommend you do.
FINAL VERDICT: Leave this film in 2004, please.