[Screen It]

(2001) (Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg) (R)

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Comedy: Two roommates find their friendship tested when one become the other's boss at the local car wash.
Things couldn't be going worse for Sean (DR. DRE). Not only is he recently unemployed, but his landlord has also given him just three days to pay the rent before he's kicked out and his car has been booted. His laidback, pot-smoking roommate, Dee Loc (SNOOP DOGG), thus suggests that Sean apply for a manager's position at the local car wash where he works.

After meeting sassy cashier Antoinette (ANGELL CONWELL), Sean manages to impress the gun-toting owner, Mr. Washington (GEORGE WALLACE), enough to get the job that became vacant after Washington fired his last manager, Chris (EMINEM).

Sean then meets the various other employees of the car wash, including Bear (TOMMY "TINY" LISTER JR.), C-Money (LAMONT BENTLEY), Ronald (RASHAAN NALL), Lil' Dee (ARIF S. KINCHEN) and Jimmy (ALEX THOMAS, as well as DeWayne (BRUCE BRUCE), the portly security guard who occasionally shows up.

Although things seem to be going well as Sean jumps into the position with vigor, his overzealousness doesn't jive with the workers, particularly Dee Loc who decides to become a constant irritant in his side both at work and at home.

Even so, the two eventually decide they have bigger problems to face when two dimwitted criminals, Face (SHAWN FONTENO) and Slim (DJ POOH), kidnap Mr. Washington who's also constantly being harassed by Chris over the phone. From that point on, Sean and Dee Loc do what they must to save both their boss and their friendship.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
Considering the number of movies released per year, not to mention all of those over the past century, coupled with all of the repetitive and/or subpar efforts, it's not surprising that many of them are ultimately forgotten. Of course, thanks to repeated airings on TV or simply from being so good, some films are remembered from start to finish.

Usually, however, only bits and pieces of any given picture, especially older ones, ring any sort of cinematic bell in most viewers' minds. Sometimes that's due to a performance, a particular scene, or ever a song on the soundtrack. The latter - in title form - is about the only thing I recall from the 1976 urban comedy, "Car Wash." Sure, I somewhat remember Richard Pryor and George Carlin appearing in it, but who can forget that catchy ditty by Rose Royce - "Hey, get your car washed today. Fill up and you don't have to pay. Come on and give us a play...Do the wash...right away...at the Car Wash...")

At least that's more than can be said for that film's "descendent," "The Wash," an instantly forgettable picture that's the cinematic equivalent of dirty car wash runoff. A comedy - and I use that term both loosely and generously - about the goings-on at some Los Angeles car wash, the film obviously bears a great deal of similarity to the earlier movie, but is an awful mess of atrocious dialogue, horrible acting and forced comedy that's not funny in concept, let alone execution.

As written and directed by D.J. Pooh ("Three Strikes") and produced by its rapper turned actor costars Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, this is the sort of film that feels like one of those insider efforts where a bunch of guys got stoned and then decided to come up with an idea for a movie (no doubt probably as the original film was showing on TV).

The result is a picture that may have seemed outrageous, hilarious or at least amusing to them at some stage of development and production, but doesn't come off that way in final form to anyone who wasn't there.

The opening, however, at least suggests that the film might be halfway tolerable as it portrays Snoop Dogg ("Bones," "Training Day") against his usual rap/movie thug type. Whether nervously starting his car and preparing to flee and abandon his buddy at the first sign of danger or dancing a goofy little dance with a lady friend, the film looks like it might have both a smattering of potential and sense of humor aimed at itself.

Unfortunately, both quickly evaporate and are replaced by the usual preponderance of urban comedy staples including nonstop profanity and liberal uses of the term "nigger" and "bitch," scantily clad women shaking their things at the camera, and the obligatory drug use. While all of that can be portrayed in an amusing fashion in parody form - such as with "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood" or "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" - it's not done that way here.

Rather, the cast and crew seem to think the simple retreading and inclusion of such material will be funny. Alas, it's not, which can also be said about the umpteenth use of scatological humor ("Hear and See a Character Have Diarrhea!"), cops interested in pastries or Pauly Shore appearing in a lame cameo.

Speaking of that adjective for weak and ineffectual, not to mention unsatisfactory, the performances clearly aren't the type that will honored in any sort of end of the year ceremonies. Not that that was anyone's intention, but c'mon, there's plenty of decent talent out there trying to catch a break while most everyone here stinks up the place.

While the performance by Dr. Dre ("Training Day," "Set It Off") -- as the main character -- isn't exactly the equivalent of fingernails down the chalkboard, he clearly doesn't bring anything particularly interesting or remarkable to the role. Dogg fares much worse, often appearing strikingly wooden, while uncredited rapper Eminem (making his feature film acting debut) is atrocious as he's reduced to yelling obscenities on the phone and jumping around like a rapper whose video won't be shown on MTV.

Comedian George Wallace ("Little Nicky," "Catfish in Blackbean Sauce") tries his best to infuse some life into the proceedings via his high-strung boss character, but can't do much with the material. Meanwhile, Pooh ("Three Strikes," "Friday") himself shows up, along with Shawn Fonteno ("Three Strikes"), as lame kidnappers in a plot twist/turn/derailment that goes absolutely nowhere and does nothing for the film. The rest of the characters and performances are instantly forgettable, just like the rest of the picture.

Had more effort been put into getting the viewer to like the main characters and/or creating some humorous conflict (and I mean that type that works) between them, the picture might have had a fighting chance of being reasonably funny and/or entertaining. As it stands, it's just a poorly written, directed and performed mishmash of vignettes that the participants apparently thought would be funny. Trust me, none of it fits that description. "The Wash" rates as just a 1 out of 10.

Reviewed November 14, 2001 / Posted November 15, 2001

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