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King’s Ransom Review

By Shawn McKenzie 04/22/2005

Anthony Anderson is one very funny actor who just can’t seem to get a break.  He is the funniest part of several good and bad movies, mostly in supporting roles or cameos.  He has also ventured out into TV, with his starring role in the WB’s sitcom “All About the Andersons” and his recent dramatic recurring role in FX’s “The Shield.”  I actually had high hopes that King’s Ransom would be good, because it is his first significant starring role where he is the headliner.  Luckily, the movie didn’t disappoint.

Malcolm King (Anderson) is a self-made millionaire from Chicago who isn’t exactly well liked.  He owns King Enterprises, a successful marketing firm, and he ticks a lot of people off.  Amongst the perturbed is his soon-to-be ex-wife Renee (Kellita Smith), who wants to take him for all that he has in the divorce settlement.  She thinks that she has a right to his money, because he said that he owes her everything…something that he wrote to her in a greeting card early in their marriage when he was drunk and horny.  He doesn’t want to jeopardize a plan to sell his ten-year-old company for $20 million, so he tries to find a way to keep Renee’s hands off of his money.  After hearing about a little boy being kidnapped and held for ransom on the news, he gets a great idea…fake his own kidnapping.  He will pay some random idiot to kidnap him and demand a ransom of $10 million that his estate will pay.  That way his wife can’t get her hands on it, because the only one who knows where the estate’s money is located is his loyal personal assistant, Miss Gladys (Loretta Devine.)  Unfortunately, Renee has a similar plan.  She wants her stuttering pool boy/lover, Byron (Roger Cross), to kidnap him and demand a ransom.  Malcolm and Renee aren’t the only ones who have a kidnapping plan for the businessman.  Angela Drake (Nicole Ari Parker), who is an intelligent woman, but got her business degree under suspicious circumstances, conspires with a couple of friends/coworkers to kidnap Malcolm.  Her friends are Kim Baker (Leila Arcieri), who has found Jesus (and has tattooed his image on her left breast), and Brooke Mayo (Brooke D’Orsay), the front desk secretary who is virtually ignored by Malcolm.  They want to kidnap Malcolm because, earlier in the day, Angela quit her job as acting Vice President of Marketing when her dim-witted assistant, Peaches Clarke (Regina Hall), was promoted above her.  Speaking of Peaches, Malcolm has her recently paroled, ex-con brother Herb (Charles Q. Murphy) do the kidnapping job.  Malcolm and Peaches are having an affair anyway, so he figures that he can trust her with the task.  Finally, one last person gets the idea to kidnap Malcolm.  Corey (Jay Mohr), an employee of Happy Snack Burgers where he works as a burger mascot, is fired by his young manager Timmy (Nicolas Wright), who gives the job to fry cook Pablo (Luis Oliva.)  Needing $10,000 for some reason to pay his escaped convict sister Raven (Lisa Marcos), Corey tries pawning some work tools at a pawnshop owned by Miss Ho (Lila Yee.)  When he only gets $100, he tries to go to King Enterprises to get a job.  Malcolm rebuffs him, and after seeing the same kidnapping news story that everyone else saw, Corey comes up with a plan to kidnap Malcolm as well.  So…the kidnapping plan goes like this:  Malcolm goes to a 10-year company celebration party and publicly announces that he is tired and wants to go home in his limo.  Byron arrives in the limo ready to kidnap Malcolm for Renee, and Angela, Kim, and Brooke, all wearing Halloween masks (Angela is wearing a mask of Condoleezza Rice), stop the limo and put him in their van.  It isn’t long before Corey stops them and holds them up using a nail gun, where he puts Malcolm in his car.  He takes Malcolm to his crappy little house where he lives with his grandmother (Jackie Burroughs) and puts him in the basement.  Meanwhile, Herb has accidentally kidnapped the wrong Malcolm King, because a valet named Andre (Donald Faison), who has been saying that he was Malcolm in order to impress women, is the person that Herb kidnaps.  Herb takes Andre to the fancy Terrance Hotel, where Andre enjoys the luxury of the room, but is still intimidated by the large, strange Herb.  With all of these people wanting a piece of Malcolm, things inevitably go wrong, including the realization that he is really being kidnapped.

This movie is director Jeff Byrd’s first major theatrical movie.  In 2003, he directed a TV movie aired on Showtime called Jasper, Texas, which got some critical acclaim.  That movie was a drama, but this movie is a very funny screwball comedy.  It is slightly similar to 1986’s Ruthless People, but not entirely.

A few people in the cast stand out in the movie.  First of course is Anderson, who looked like he was having a ball playing the role of the nasty millionaire.  This might make up for his participation in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.  I think that I will always love Mohr’s character in the FOX sitcom “Action” the best, but he plays a great bumbling, angry psycho amusingly.  Amongst the women, I cracked up the most while watching the scenes with Hall.  Her flighty character Peaches had me on the floor.

King’s Ransom may be the movie that makes Anderson a big household name.  While I liked it, I’m wondering if the opinions of other critics will harm the flick.  Since the movie was only screened the night before it opened, the Tomatometer on the Rotten Tomatoes website only shows six reviews (as of this writing)…and all of them are bad.  I think that the public will make that decision, and I believe that it will make a decent amount of money, if not by blockbuster standards.  Either way, I can’t wait to see Anderson lead another theatrical movie.  Maybe he will do a drama and earn an Oscar (or an Emmy, based on the kudos he has been receiving for “The Shield”) in the process.  Time will tell.


Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

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