All About the Benjamins

Bucum Jackson (Ice Cube, Next Friday, Three Kings) is a volatile bounty hunter with aspirations of starting his own private investigation firm. Reggie Wright (Mike Epps, How High, Dr. Dolittle 2) is a con man and frequent prey of Jackson, who also happened to recently win a pot of over $60 million in the Florida lottery. Jackson is again on his way to apprehending Wright when both run afoul of a diamond heist. Wright loses his wallet, which contains the winning ticket, and Jackson sees an opportunity to launch his career. If he can recover the diamonds before the police, he can ride inevitable wave of free publicity to the bank. Unfortunately, he'll need the help of Wright, who is the only person who has enough information to help Jackson succeed. If All About the Benjamins sounds familiar, it is because it is. This degenerates into a buddy cop type movie (although neither Cube nor Epps play cops) where Jackson is the no-nonsense straight man and Wright is the comic relief.

Director Kevin Bray fails to generate anything meaningful from Cube and Ronald Lang's script, which suffers from a serious lack of creativity. There is nothing in this movie that audiences have not seen before. The main attraction to these types of films is the chemistry between the leads, and there is some, but not much. It will mostly depend on how a specific person feels about the Mike Epps' brand of comedy, which can sometimes come off as insipidly annoying. It's not horrible here, but sometimes does approach that level. Most of his dialogue consists either of him complaining about his missing ticket or something else, or cheap attempts at humor, most of which fail. Essentially, he is a slower version, lower-pitched version of Chris Tucker. In the past, Ice Cube demonstrated that he can indeed act, but that is not too evident here. Here, he looks really pissed for most of the movie. However, there is not much opportunity for him to do anything, but then again, he co-wrote the script.

Although the story itself seems fairly straightforward (find diamonds and ticket) it unfolds in a strange, convoluted manner. The crooks are remarkably stupid at covering up their tracks after having planned such an elaborate heist. Jackson and Wright are stupid too, but they are the good guys so they are always finding their way out of bad situations. For those not hip to slang, 'benjamins' are $100 bills (they have pictures of Benjamin Franklin on them). Money is what makes the world go round, and everybody in this movie is after some sort of money. And this movie is all about the bickering. Cube and Epps argue their way through most of the movie. They play off each other the same way they did in Next Friday, and it works to a small degree. With a better polished script, they could actually be consistently funny.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, and brief sexuality.

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