All About the Benjamins opens on an incredible high note when urban bounty hunter Bucum Jackson (Ice Cube) tears his way through a Florida Everglades trailer park, cuffing his target only to come under attack by close-knit trailer trash fond of racist Bugs Bunny cartoons and Confederate flags. Then, an awesome title sequence composed of snapshots of white decadence digitally morphing into monetary units, and because of this opening thrill, Benjamins becomes difficult to pin down for what initially smells like just another ethnic buddy yarn. The film simultaneously embraces and rejects the dog-whistle vaudeville of Rush Hour and the testosterone overload of Bad Boys, and the result is an absurd, sometimes elegant look at cultural emancipation via the buck. It’s practically Friday in Miami, and somewhere in the slums of the city, Reggie Wright (Mike Ebbs) does the supermarket sweep with a pair of South Beach grandma thugs while his girlfriend Gina (Eva Mendes) prays that Santa Maria will deliver the goods on lotto night. If Reggie wants out of the ghetto, his rapid-fire gibberish fascinatingly exposes his dependence to it (its welfare checks, its Medicaid) and his fear of emancipation. Roger Guenveur Smith is wonderfully deadpan as the mustache-twirling baddie (his bathroom sparring match with Ebbs is easily the film’s comedic highlight) and Bray gracefully slithers in and out of Miami’s many armpits, feasting on the city’s Latin beats during a playful chase sequence that pits Bucum against the wiley Reggie. Even when the film loses steam in its final act, Cube and Lang find time to let the film’s women get in on the action; the girls may fear breaking a nail but they refuse to play passive spectators to their men’s show of force and empowerment.
- Kevin Bray
- Ice Cube, Ronald Lang
- Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Tommy Flanagan, Roger Guenveur Smith, Carmen Chaplin, Jeff Chase, Anthony Giaimo, Lil' Bow wow, Eva Mendes, Valarie Rae Miller, Anthony Michael Hall
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