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‘I’m Gonna Git Ya Sucka’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 16, 1988


Keenan Ivory Wayans
Keenen Ivoy Wayans;
Bernie Casey;
Jim Brown;
Isaac Hays;
Antonio Fargas;
Steve James;
John Vernon;
Clu Gulager
Under 17 restricted

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In "I'm Gonna Git Ya Sucka," Keenen Ivory Wayans tries to be a comic Superfly on the wall of the black-exploitation-movie era. Stuck with self-imposed triple duty (writing, directing, starring), Wayans lands on flypaper instead.

The cowriter and costar of Robert Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle" (and "cowriter" of the concert movie "Eddie Murphy Raw") may be quick on the raw but he's slow on structure, pace and those other intangibles that make a good comedy . . . well, a good comedy.

Recruiting some familiar macho-movie vets -- Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes (composer of the wow-chicka-wow-chicka-wickawow "Shaft" theme), Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas and Steve James but not Richard ("Shaft") Roundtree -- Wayans dresses them up (in camouflage-meets-American-Ninja chic) but gives them nowhere to go. Certainly this satirical street war, against a gang led by professional screen villain John Vernon, has its funny gunfire -- helped largely by the presence of the senior performers. But unlike satirical siblings "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," "Airplane!" and the current "Naked Gun," "Sucka" fires blanks all too often.

Those sporadic hits -- at the risk of spoiling "Sucka" -- include a street gang competition (organized by Bernie Casey's community-thinking "John Slade"), where one of the foot races involves youths being chased by Dobermans while carrying stolen televisions and, in a team event, stripping down cars to nothing within seconds. Later, over-the-hill hustler Fargas remembers sentimentally the year he made "Pimp of the Year" with his show-stopping performance poem, "My Bitch Better Have My Money."

Otherwise, you're asked to find it funny that a young man ("Junebug") is found dead from an overdose of gold chains, and to sit through a lot of exploi-sition, as Wayans (playing Junebug's brother, Jack Spade) ploddingly investigates the death, reunites with his family (cliche'-fiery mother Ja'net DuBois and sister-in-law Dawnn Lewis) and summons the Gang of Yore.

Wayans' choosing to play romantic lead seems more narcissistic than smartly comic (watch him unleash those built biceps once too often); he lacks an unidentifiable shtick. And he seems too easily satisfied with predictable and sophomoric punchlines. Lapses like that give "Sucka" the Shaft.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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