Marci X: Andrew Schwartz
Lisa Schwarzbaum
September 05, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Marci X

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
84 minutes
Wide Release Date
08/22/03
performer
Lisa Kudrow, Damon Wayans, Christine Baranski, Richard Benjamin, Paula Garces, Charles Kimbrough, Jane Krakowski, Sheri Rene Scott
director
Richard Benjamin
distributor
Paramount Pictures
author
Paul Rudnick
genre
Comedy

We gave it a B-

Imagine it’s written by a Fab One from ”Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Think of it as the campy cousin of a Christopher Guest parody. Assume it’s an occasionally lame, occasionally barking-funny episode of ”South Park” (including worthy songs cowritten by send-up genius Marc Shaiman), only it’s live action, it stars Damon Wayans and Lisa Kudrow (in her shrewder-than-she-looks ”Analyze This” mode), and it packs more opulent costume changes into 84 minutes than Ivana Trump managed in the entire 1980s. I’m trying to get my head around Marci X, a talent-stuffed assemblage of barbs and giddy musical numbers that shouldn’t be written off as a feature flop — but savored instead for the cult-ready collection of late-night satirical skits and misses it is.

Kudrow stars as Marci Feld, couture-victim daughter of a Jewish business king, played by Richard Benjamin (who also directs). Among Ben Feld’s holdings is the record label of Dr. S (Wayans), a rapper whose lyrics offend a moralizing U.S. senator (Christine Baranski). When the senator calls for a boycott and Feld collapses with a heart attack, daughter Marci does damage control.

Part of the problem with this lighter-than-”Bulworth” commentary on class, politics, and art (written by agile parodist Paul Rudnick with eyebrow fully arched) is that for all its lighthearted gibes at rap posturing, mogul vulgarity, socialite vanity, and black-white attitudinizing, the movie feels disconnected from its own objects of ridicule. Rudnick, whose more heartfelt play-turned-1995 movie, ”Jeffrey,” featured Baranski in a ”Hoedown for AIDS,” at one point continues his disease-gala dissection in ”Marci X” with a charity banquet for Children With No Feeling in Their Arms. I predict a robust rental future from the healthy who, for no defensible reason, laugh at the sight of youngsters solemnly being stuck with forks as a fund-raising ploy.

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