People love rappers! And people love movies! But like bubblegum and any company that yearns to release a “bubblegum-flavored” product, sometimes two things simply refuse to go together properly. The allure of achieving fame across multiple mediums is a powerful one, but it’s also very risky. As talented as someone is at rhyming about how much they get laid in their cars (Are rappers sixteen-year-old suburban white dudes in disguise?), it doesn’t mean that they can be equally good at maintaining screen presence or even saying parts of a sentence that don’t include couplets about getting laid in their cars.
This compilation will show you that many people should’ve followed Trick Daddy’s example when he, in “Let’s Go,” yelled “And I aint that actor type, alright!”
- Eminem, in 50 Cent: Bulletproof
50 Cent’s ode to 50 Cent is a video game that sort of works. It can be put into a console and you can play it, like most video games, but barely any part of playing it is enjoyable. There is no wish fulfillment achieved in stepping into the shoes of 50 Cent, much less a 50 Cent who is constantly harassed by gangs, and Bulletproof might take on a “so bad, it’s good” status if the voice acting was enthusiastic. But if you wanted enthusiastic acting, you shouldn’t have gone with Eminem, who could not be less excited to be lending his voice to corrupt cop “Detective McVicar.”
The voice acting in Bulletproof would require a lot of inflection and magic to make up for the PlayStation 2 graphics that they were emanating from. Just look at the editing in this cut scene. How do you mess up “50 Cent has a threesome that’s interrupted by Eminem”? That’s was 50 Cent’s actual life for about half of a decade, and it’s cut together in a way that leaves the viewer confused as to where anyone in the room is, or what they’re doing the whole time. It’s an experimental film, disguised as a 50 Cent adventure, disguised as an experimental film directed by 50 Cent in the middle of another 50 Cent adventure.
Every character model in Bulletproof looks like it was taken from that rapper’s potential WWE action figure, and Eminem doesn’t help matters by using “All of this will be cut from the game before its release” as his motivation. You’d think that Eminem would provide the same kind of desperate energy that he gave to all of the lyrics he wrote after 2001, but Eminem says dialogue like a guy trying to leave a party, but is being stopped by too many people who want hugs.
- Lil Wayne, in Baller Blockin’
I’ve done the necessary time-travelling and I’ve asked my middle school self to list the top ten ways to title a movie featuring rappers. After much sweating from Young Daniel, I added entries two through six together, and came up with, unsurprisingly, Baller Blockin’.
Lil Wayne went from being the go-to party rapper, to a man obsessed with having his face embedded in lady ass, and wanting the earth to know about it in excruciating detail through the soothing power of music. The Lil Wayne you see in Baller Blockin’ is not so confident in his abilities. He is the high school football player forced to take a theatre class and standing uncomfortably to the side of an improv scene. Lil Wayne seemingly does a lot of waiting for the easiest point to jump in the conversation in Baller Blockin’, which would be fine if the movie had little dialogue. But as I mentioned, Baller Blockin’ is a lot like improv: half of the dialogue in it either lasts forever, or is totally irrelevant. So you wind up waiting for Lil Wayne to do anything of consequence at all but watch the other guys go on and on about nothing in particular, with only the mirage of a goal in mind.
Lil Wayne, who once spoke of seducing a female cop by doing nothing but being himself, is at his most sheepish in Baller Blockin’. His character is named “Iceberg Shorty” (In the distance, Quentin Tarantino scribbles notes furiously) and I’d feel almost like I was lying if I didn’t mention the few scenes where Lil Wayne gets to perform some stilted dialogue that don’t add to the plot whatsoever. The most prominent of these occurs early in the film, where Wayne is collecting money from a drug deal, realizes that the customer is short on cash, and then nothing happens. Lil Wayne, who you’d expect to explode into a verse about lollipops (dongs) or firemen (also dongs), lets the guy go on with his day and then seems to look for the camera afterward. It’s the only performance in this whole article that I have genuine pity for.
- Ying Yang Twins, in Soul Plane
Soul Plane is the documentary of the fateful day that hundreds of lives were put into the hands of Snoop Dogg. Because of that, I don’t know if I’m qualified to pass judgment on whether or not it is good. I can watch every Marvel movie and lean back into my Pringle crumbs, grumbling “It wasn’t THAT true to the comics,” but Soul Plane is entirely out of my grasp. Soul Plane exists. That much is true.
Usually, when creating a cameo, you make it an “Aha!” moment. There’s a big “Look! Bill Murray!” reveal that starts with a shot of someone’s feet and tilts up to someone’s just-showing-up-for-the-paycheck head. They also receive some sort of self-aware joke to land home how special it is that they’re in the goddamn movie. For instance, if Arnold Schwarzeneggar is in a modern film, he has to say “I’m back!”, because, at our most base nature, we’re all cavemen clapping at things that are familiar to us. “THE MUSCLE MAN SAID THE THING THAT HE SAID EARLIER! THIS MOVIE IS INCREDIBLE IN PAYING HOMAGE TO ITS ROOTS.”
The Ying Yang Twins receive none of this. They show up in the middle of filming a music video for a song that already has a music video in the real world, and Kevin Hart only completes the humiliation by having to ask someone else if they’re the Ying Yang Twins. And when 2004 Kevin Hart is having to inquire as to whether or not you’re a famous person, it’s then that you become mindful of the fact that you are only a pawn in an unfriendly universe.
When he learns who they are, Hart is excited to see them, but he should’ve have brought the same, lingering, painful attention that he brings to his punchlines, to his character, since he quickly forgets about them, leaving them saying a few unintelligible lines. No, the jokes in this movie do not belong to the Ying Yang Twins. Instead, the only thing that could be technically classified as “humor” is given to the preteen in sweat bands. As you’ve previously seen in everything that I wrote in the first two years of my writing career, comedy is a hard art to master, or even present effectively. Often, you just have to give the jokes to the loud kid. and pray.
- Pitbull, in Blood Money
Blood Money is cinema’s number one offense against ninjas, assassins, and crime. Never has there been a movie where all three were so omnipresent, and yet so boring too. If you can be bothered to keep up with the plot, something that Blood Money’s screenwriter couldn’t even manage to do, you’ll find that it makes scant coherent sense. Blood Money is about ninjas, assassins, and crime, in no particular order.
Pitbull also plays himself, which is a treat. He’s invited to a meeting with a few crime bosses after singing the movie’s theme song, and it only raises multiple questions, the biggest being “Was there no one else that they could invite to provide counsel aside from Pitbull? Not just out of rappers. Like, out of anyone?” Did the lead gangster not know that he was inviting THAT Pitbull? Did he mean to invite some other “Pitbull” who would be even slightly relevant to the situation? We’ll never know.
The most telling part of the scene is when Pitbull, like in multiple instances with his music, says a line that is meant to be important and it ends up being insubstantial within three seconds of him saying it. “Put your ears to the ground, the streets will talk.” What do you know, Pitbull playing movie Pitbull? Why do we need to take your word in this? Don’t you have a world’s worth of world to cover before the night is over? Why are you on this couch, telling established criminals how to thrive within their operation? I trust you to make a remix of a Katy Perry song, but I think you might be a little out of your league here, Pit.
- Lil Jon, in Scary Movie 4
The Scary Movie series has never really peaked like most series do. There is no installment that is better or worse than the others. The first two Scary Movie films are primarily concerned with how many ways they can get their characters to hilariously perform fellatio on each other. The next two were written for the people who thought that the first two had too many jokes about semen, but not enough about pee. And the last one is numbing in its attempt to make you laugh at jokes that untalented YouTube sketch comedians already beaten into oblivion years earlier. There is no series that has ever proven how out of touch it is with pop culture by trying to prove how in touch it is with pop culture as much as the Scary Movie series has.
Lil Jon appearing in 2006’s Scary Movie 4 is the perfect Venn Diagram of everything annoying at the time: guys shouting “WHAT?” and “OKAY!” at each other in raspy, screeching tones, and the Scary Movie series. Both were insanely prevalent, and both were never meant to collide in a kinder universe. But we are indeed plummeting towards apocalypse, and they did. The scene ends in typical Scary Movie fashion – with physical comedy meant to inspire laughter, and only finding lazy indifference.
- BONUS ROUND: JAY Z, IN STATE PROPERTY
The most I can say about Jay Z’s role in State Property is that he transcends acting. I don’t know if he’s giving the best performance in the world (as a sociopathic crime boss), or the worst (as a man trying in vain to play a sociopathic crime boss), but I think he achieves both. Acting was never the same after State Property was released, and we can thank a confused, mumbling Jay Z for that.