Whatta drag

LOUIS B. HOBSON

, Last Updated: 3:35 PM ET

It's Some Like It Hot all over again.

Billy Wilder's classic 1959 drag comedy, Some Like It Hot, keeps getting the strangest incarnations.

In Wilder's revered sex romp, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon slipped into wigs, dresses and makeup and joined an all-girls' band to escape Mafia hitmen.

Earlier this year, in Connie & Carla, Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette pretended to be men pretending to be women so they could disappear in West Hollywood's gay ghetto to escape their would-be assassins.

Audiences are in for an even more twisted twist in White Chicks as a pair of FBI agents (Marlon Wayans and his brother Shawn Wayans) pretend to be female and white to thwart the kidnapping of a pair of spoiled heiresses.

There is, of course, no way on the face of any planet that Marlon and Shawn could ever pass for white -- let alone female, but part of the fun is suspending disbelief to let the joke ride.

Marlon and Shawn are hidden under grotesque prosthetic face pieces and their bodies are sprayed a kind of chalky Michael Jackson white.

The object of this charade is to allow the brother of Marlon and Shawn, Keenen Ivory Wayans, to direct them to savage dim-witted socialites like Paris Hilton, who have gone from the society pages of newspapers to their own TV shows.

Arguably the best moments in White Chicks have Marlon and Shawn accompany a gaggle of spoiled white girls on shopping sprees and to slumber parties, afternoon tea parties and charity auctions.

What doesn't work this time around is the gross-out and bathroom humour that characterized the Wayans' brothers Scary Movie films.

Watching Marlon biting his toe nail in a restaurant and then eating like a starved cave man is decidedly not funny and that's nowhere near as embarrassing as having attention paid to his finicky bowels.

Keenen Ivory needed to spend a few more hours in the editing room. Many of the jokes in White Chicks go on too long, thus blunting their effect.

As in Some Like It Hot and Connie & Carla, an unsuspecting straight man falls for one of the pretenders.

In this case, it's Terry Crews as a muscle-bound basketball player who gets the hots for Marlon.

Every moment Crews is on screen, White Chicks is genuinely funny and positively hysterical when he breaks into a rendition of Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles.

The six writers were careful to give Marlon a wife and allow Shawn to sneak out of drag to woo a sexy female reporter to emphasize these are straight dudes camping it up out of necessity not inclination.

It's amazing how much mileage the Wayans brothers get out of their high-concept, one-joke slapstick comedy, making White Chicks much funnier than any of its trailers suggest.

(This film is rated PG)


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