Naked (2017) Aug 11, 2017 23:00:13 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Aug 11, 2017 23:00:13 GMT -5
Directed by: Michael Tiddes
Directed by: Michael Tiddes
Marlon Wayans in the promotional image for Naked.
Rob Anderson (Marlon Wayans) is a day away from marrying his kind, supportive wife Megan (Regina Hall) despite opposition from her father (Allstate commercial star Dennis Haysbert). A gentle, if buffoonish man, who enjoys teaching kids a couple days a week as opposed to accepting the full-time job he's been offered, Rob goes out for drinks with his best man the night before his wedding only to awake in an elevator, clueless and unclothed. Just a few seconds after waking up, the elevator door opens to a crowd of amused and flabbergasted folks just as the hotel concierge and security work to escort the nude Rob off of the premises. As soon as the elevator dings and let's him off, Rob has 60 minutes to accomplish everything from arriving to his wedding, to which he is already tardy, pick up the ring, the envelopes boasting the new font, marry Megan, recite his vows, and do it all flawlessly. If he fails, and he does dozens of times, he goes back in the elevator, awakened to the same horror and humored stares from passersby.
Naked is loosely inspired by the 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day, a film still widely considered to be the best in its class by miles well into a new century, but mostly borrows from a modest Swedish comedy from 2000 called Naken. The intent and ambition behind this fourth collaboration between Wayans and director Michael Tiddes (A Haunted House, Fifty Shades of Black) is admirable given their track-record of mostly low-grade spoofs one small notch above the abysmal work of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, but the end result doesn't fare much better. This is a miserably mediocre, one-note joke comedy where its one joke isn't even that funny, and quite frankly, terribly regressive humor.
Tiddes and Wayans' latest is predicated upon the age-old comedy double-standard in which female nudity is encouraged and automatically meant for arousal whereas, by contrast, male nudity promotes instant laughter because, what, it's unexpected and penises are quite comical? For a film in which one-third of its 90 minute runtime forces audiences to stare at Wayans' unchapped ass, this movie is, simply put, pretty half-assed.
A great part of these "time loop" premises is the method behind the madness. The "why" behind it all. Groundhog Day never gave us a concrete answer, but we could infer it was due in part to Bill Murray's Phil being a self-absorbed schmuck with no consideration for others and a narcissistic view on life. Its tricky premise of landmines was only enhanced by writers Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin's abilities to make the repetition both exhausting and intriguing. Hearing that Sonny & Cher tune over and over again, by the seventy minute mark of the film, coupled with the routine of stepping in/avoiding a puddle and memorizing the exact nanosecond at which some innocent pedestrian would say something to Phil became rhythmic, while at the same time, unpredictable in terms of how exactly our anti-hero would respond.
Here, Tiddes and Wayans (along with two other writers, Rick Alvarez and Cory Koller) restrict their premise to warranting Rob an hour before his time expires and he's forced back in the elevator, ostensibly prompting more time for comic possibilities, but also, more time for endless repetition and regurgitated jokes that weren't funny the first time and damn sure don't put a smile on the face the fifth, twelfth, or sixteenth time they play out. There is also never a discernible reason for why the universe has bestowed such an awful curse on Rob either, except for maybe the fact he lacks ambition to make up for his skillset. I don't know; there was too much focus on a bitchy bridesmaid and a vindictive ex-boyfriend to really pay attention to anything of remote subtlety buried under a heaping pile of situational noise garbage.
A notable difference in tone for Tiddes and Wayans this time around is not only is there an actual narrative, but there are also dramatic wavelengths throughout the movie that add actual risk and difficultly for the characters. We're talking about Rob's marriage on top of his deep-rooted feelings of insecurity due to the success of Megan's ex in comparison to him and her father's disappointment in him as a person. Some of this sentimentality is actually played with merit in the second act, where things get surprisingly emotional and complex for Rob. But again, just as the film begins to find any kind of recognizable dramatic footing, it's back to bare-ass-wakes-up-in-the-elevator all over again and we cycle through the same, pandering schtick.
Naked could've been a success, but the recent track record of its director, lead actor, and Netflix-distributed comedies all worked against it considerably. Some might know I wasn't always so down on Marlon Wayans, his family, and his comedy. I still think the first two Scary Movie films, In Living Color, and even the often maligned Little Man are fairly competent, if not strong, works of spoof-heavy slapstick comedy. And yet for the entire decade and before that, going all the way back to White Chicks, the Wayans have compiled nothing but a losing record of comic failures and a batting average lower than a prison-league baseball player. Simply put, I wouldn't be this hard and upset about Marlon Wayans and his downward spiral in creativity if I didn't think he had some talent and Naked is another movie that effectively clubs whatever that creative spark was in the 1990s and 2000s into danker and danker submission.
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Regina Hall, Loretta Devine, Dennis Haysbert, Scott Foley, and Brian McKnight. Directed by: Michael Tiddes.