The funny thing about white people, you see, is that they are very different from black people. Yes! It’s true! And that’s why it’s so funny.
That is the premise behind … well, a lot of movies. But specifically “Who’s Your Caddy?,” a monstrously ill-conceived and unfunny comedy about what happens when some black folks barge into a snooty white country club and start shakin’ things up.
There are two clues that this movie will be worthless:
1) The premise is old and tired.
2) It’s called “Who’s Your Caddy?”
When will Hollywood learn that a pun title is the kiss of death? It’s a sign of desperation, of trying too hard to be funny. (“We’ll even give the movie a FUNNY TITLE! ‘Cause we’re ZANY! KA-ZOING!!”) There has never been a good movie that had a pun title.*
This one stars OutKast’s Antwan Andre Patton (aka “Big Boi”) as C-Note, a millionaire rap producer who wants to join the Carolina Pines Golf & Polo Club. The film is half over before we’re given any clue as to his reason for wanting to join, or even a hint that there IS a reason. All we know is that he wants a membership, and the stuffy white board of governors denies him.
As far as the movie is concerned, that’s all we NEED to know. Stupid ol’ Whitey is trying to keep black people down, and we ain’t gonna stand for it!
Actually, however, though the board’s racism is clearly a factor, they do point out — truthfully, apparently — that there’s a five-year waiting list for new members. Before C-Note and his entourage burst into the club’s office, the board is seen turning down applications from such noteworthies as Bill Clinton and Rosie O’Donnell. (“He had a popular talk show,” someone says of the latter, which kind of made me laugh.) Bigotry aside, the club evidently has a legitimate reason for not granting C-Note an immediate membership: nobody gets an immediate membership.
But hey, let’s play the race card anyway. To retaliate, C-Note buys the estate immediately adjacent to the club’s golf course, then starts filming licentious music videos on the back lawn as a disruption. The head of the board, named Dick Cummings (seriously, movie?) and played by Jeffrey Jones, is shocked and appalled and wants to know how he can buy C-Note off. He sends a lawyer, Shannon Williams (Tamala Jones), carefully chosen because she’s black, to make him an offer on the property. No deal. C-Note won’t sell for any price. He wants a club membership.
So Cummings and the board give him a membership. They have an ace up their sleeve, though: New members are on probation for four weeks, and even the slightest infraction on the club rules is grounds for dismissal. Surely C-Note and his rowdy posse of guests will screw up somehow!
They do, of course, but then they outsmart Cummings when their infractions are revealed. For example, one of C-Note’s buddies brought a gun to the golf course, a strict no-no. But since he has a letter signed by the mayor granting him permission to carry his gun anywhere he pleases, it’s OK! Which is ridiculous, of course. In real life, you might have the right to carry a gun in public (laws differ from state to state), but any private-property owner can bar you from bringing it onto his private property if he so chooses. Yet Cummings just hems and haws and blusters and accepts that, well, if the mayor signed the letter, then I guess the club’s rule is moot!
There’s eventually a golf match planned between Cummings and C-Note that will settle everything, with the losing party leaving the club forever. In the meantime, it’s a parade of the standard jokes. C-Note’s obese friend Big Large (Faizon Love) walks around naked in the locker room, where the old white men are frightened and intrigued by his giant penis. All the white women who encounter C-Note’s group, including Cummings’ trophy wife (Susan Ward), want to sleep with them. They drive a golf cart with spinning rims. They heckle and harass other club members for being white, rich, and reserved — in other words, for being different from them. Being loud and raucous and listening to hip-hop music, that’s the RIGHT way to behave. You old, stuffy white people? You’re ridiculous.
Cummings has a 14-year-old son named Wilson (Andy Milonakis) who hates his dad and is delighted by C-Note’s posse. Big Large takes Wilson to a nightclub and shows him how to slap a go-go dancer’s butt.
“Whose [butt] is that?”
“Oh! It’s mine!”
And soon enough he’s up there on the pedestal, freak-dancing with her and slapping her butt. It is heartwarming to see a young kid be taken under a mentor’s wing, isn’t it?
The director is Don Michael Paul (“Half Past Dead”), a white guy who co-wrote the screenplay with two other white guys, Robert Henny and Bradley Allenstein (“Juwanna Mann”). I’ve addressed the film’s skewed worldview; I should also mention the sloppy subplots and careless storytelling methods.
Why is there an interlude with two midget hitmen hired by Cummings to get rid of C-Note? Why introduce C-Note’s mother (Jenifer Lewis) into the film if she’s not going to serve a purpose? Why wait until 45 minutes into the movie to indicate C-Note’s reason for joining the club in the first place? It’s bad to have characters who behave without motivation — and it doesn’t count if they have a motivation and you just don’t tell us what it is.
Antwan Andre Patton showed considerable charisma in last year’s lackluster “Idlewild,” and he shows it again in this dud. He’s likable even when the movies he’s in aren’t.
As his enemy, Jeffrey Jones is essentially reprising the role that made him famous: Principal Rooney in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Here he must endure the same physical humiliations (a face full of horse manure, for example) and make the same withering, suspicious facial expressions. The chief difference, I suppose, is that “Ferris Bueller” was funny, and “Who’s Your Caddy?” is not. That may seem obvious, but I’d have thought a lot of things about this movie would be obvious.
*(See the blog for further discussion of this sweeping generalization.)
D- (1 hr., 33 min.; )