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‘Mo’ Money’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 25, 1992

Damon Wayans's best moments in his new comedy, "Mo' Money," come when he does nothing. He's funniest when he simply looks on and observes, motionless, his face plastered with an expression of cowlike obliviousness.

The "In Living Color" star, who wrote and executive-produced this new picture, has a handful of these sublimely blank moments in "Mo' Money," but not nearly enough to anesthetize us to the film's painful deficiencies. Wayans plays a small-time con man who wants to go straight but can't get ahead without breaking the law. Usually he works in tandem with his brother (Damon's own brother, Marlon Wayans), but when he meets Amber (Stacey Dash), an eye-popping executive with a giant credit card company, he lies his way into a job in the mail room. After some freelance card lifting of his own, he is forced by the firm's head of security (John Diehl) into a much more elaborate credit scam and, in trying to impress his new girlfriend, gets himself into real trouble.

The film itself is in trouble long before this. The movie is described as an "action-comedy-romance," but it fails to work as any of the three. Perhaps this is because filmmaker Peter MacDonald, a veteran second-unit director, can't seem to distinguish one from another. When he directs action, he directs action; when he directs comedy, he directs action; and so on ...

Whenever it comes to rest, the movie collapses completely, especially when the dialogue shifts to facile political commentary. Wayans has a point of view, but not much of a message. If the picture comes out strong for anything it's misogyny, and the running ugly broad jokes are just the tip of the iceberg.

"Mo' Money" is rated R for sensuality and language.

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