All About the Benjamins
That’s Benjamins as in Franklins — i.e., hundred-dollar-bills — in All About the Benjamins: Ice Cube plays Bucum (pronounced ”book ’em”) Jackson, a Miami bounty hunter hoping to earn the dough to open his own private-eye firm, and Mike Epps is Reggie Wright, a small-time con man who stumble-bumbles his way into a big-time diamond heist. There’s a subplot about Reggie’s lost winning ticket to a $60 million lottery, stuff about the straight-man-jokester relationship between Bucum and Reggie, and some souped-up, post-”Miami Vice” impressions of South Beach from music video-turned-first-time feature director Kevin Bray. A couple of gals (Eva Mendes and Valarie Rae Miller) tag along after their guys; a scarfaced Scottish baddie (Tommy Flanagan) gets tough on the boys in a speedboat; a couple of doggies bolt out of the blocks during a shoot-out at a racetrack.
Actually, ”All About the Benjamins” is all about extending the Cube/Epps franchise, following their pairing in 1999’s ”Next Friday,” which may have been a commercially successful comedy partnership but which ain’t no rockin’ 1995 Cube-and-Chris-Tucker ”Friday,” either. I don’t know if Cube is melting as he warms up his persona to be all things to all audiences — tough but tender, rap-real but corporate-ready — or if Epps’ off-spin, discount-Tucker prattle is slowing Cube’s game. But something puddles to nothing in this relentless Miami sun.