`Wash' drips with lame jokes and antics

Review: Save your money for renting a video of `Car Wash.'

November 19, 2001|By Gene Seymour | Gene Seymour,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The world needs many things besides (but still including) that "love, sweet love" thing. The world needs poets rhetorically nimble enough to articulate the breadth of our anxieties and hopes. The world needs leaders who can guide us through the perils of this scary new world with wit and assurance.

What the world doesn't need is a remake of Car Wash, especially when it's as moronic as The Wash.

The original Car Wash, from 1976, though not a classic, was openhearted and funny. It may have meandered too much, but what didn't meander in the 1970s?

It had Richard Pryor, Franklin Ajaye and Garrett Morris. And, best of all, it had Ivan Dixon in what might have been the most greatly underrated performance by this greatly underrated actor.

Whether writer-director DJ Pooh intended The Wash to pay homage to Car Wash isn't clear. What is clear is that the success of Friday, which Pooh helped create six years ago, convinced him there was a bottomless pit of patrons for slacker-stoner humor whose characters kicked back, got high and fired off filthy jokes.

That audience will probably show up for The Wash. But even its indulgence will be tested. Oh, there are a couple of toilet jokes and some lame-brained antics to giggle at here and there. But Pooh forgot to include anyone in the movie to root for or even like very much; qualities that both Car Wash and Friday had in common.

Dr. Dre is Sean, a laid-off sneaker salesman who takes a job as manager of a car wash where his ne'er-do-well roommate Dee Loc (Snoop Dogg) works. The owner (George Wallace) is a pistol-packing tightwad whose bluster can't fend off death threats from a former employee or shakedowns by neighborhood knuckleheads.

The movie itself is a knucklehead operation, all glands and attitude with no heart or brains. Wallace, though no Ivan Dixon, gets a few good lines, and Snoop Dogg plays his morally suspect role with just enough wry ambivalence to indicate that he might have tried to think his way through this calamity. So much for the bright side.

Gene Seymour writes for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

The Wash

Starring Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre

Directed by DJ Pooh

Rated R (language, drug use, some sexuality and violence)

Released by Lions Gate Films

Running time 95 minutes

Sun score *

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