September 8, 2005
by Amy Diaz
A bike cop gets a shot
at being a detective by using his baby-face to go undercover at a posh
prep school in Underclassman.
Glaaaaah ó itís a sound
thatís part gag, part groan, part heavy sigh and usually comes in
conjunction with an eye roll and a flopping back of the head. Itís the
sound you make when you find out that dinner will consist of leftover
baked chicken and peas from a can. Itís the sound you make when you go
to the laundry room and realize that every single piece of cloth in your
house is piled up and needs washing. Itís the sound you make when you
find out that the staff meeting will include both a progress report and
a brainstorming session. Itís a sound that is both plea for relief and
an acceptance of prolonged unpleasantness. It is, in a word, my feelings
towards this movie.
Glaaaaah ó dear god,
another cop comedy. Itís as though Jimmy Fallonís Taxi never happened.
As though we, as a society, have learned nothing.
Nick Cannon, the
movieís star, is, in terms of things grown-up people may have seen,
perhaps best known for his role in Drumline. He is not, in terms of
24-year-old actors who got their start on Nickelodeon, bad. He has
potential for, well, who knows what really as his chief characteristic
seems to be a blank-slate ability to mold to fit his roles. Such
malleability, however, is not eternal. Continuing down the road of lame,
junk-status comedies is the sure way to be typecast for failure. Or, as
your mom might say, if you keep making those faces, one day they might
freeze that way.
Cannon is Tre Stokes, a
bike cop who itches to do more. Always yipping at the ankles of his
captain (Cheech Marin), Stokes manages to talk his way into an
undercover assignment at a private high school in Los Angeles. There was
an unsolved murder at the school and, as Tre quickly discovers, a rash
of car thefts.
But itís not all about
the big bust for Tre, he also feels a sudden rush of accomplishment at
the thought of finally graduating high school for real (seems he only
ever made it to GED). And then, of course, thereís that other big bust
belonging to Miss Lopez (Roselyn Sanchez), the Spanish teacher who helps
him find his inner scholar.
After the requisite
black-kid-at-white-school jokes, the underage-girls jokes, the
difference-between-rich-and-poor jokes, the brash-cop-and-stern-captain
jokes, then we do the requisite 20 minutes of car chases and improbable
explosions. Watch the trailer and there wonít be a minute of the movie
you couldnít predict accurately without ever seeing the film. No
surprises, no innovation, nothing clever or smart about the way this
movie uses its well-worn plot.
The filmís best
feature? It only runs 95 minutes. And at 96 minutes, the glaaaaah
definitely becomes an aaargh.