“It’s the only movie released this year with fourteen words in its title”
This spoof of ‘Hood films was directed by Paris Barclay and stars Shawn and Marlon Wayans, who also hold co-screenwriting credits alongside Phil Beauman.
The plot follows two cousins – good kid Ashtray (Shawn Wayans) and thuggish Loc Dog (Marlon Wayans), who wears condoms and pacifiers in his hair – as they traverse the unpredictable landscape of South Central Los Angeles.
Ashtray’s middle-class mother (Vivica Fox) is a beautiful, intelligent professional who dumps him in the ghetto. She won’t return; she says, “You know there ain’t no positive black females in these movies”.
She wants him to get an education so he doesn’t end up “selling drugs, pimping women, or working security for Eddie Murphy”.
Tray moves in with his teenage father, who dispenses fatherly advice, telling his son that condoms take away the feeling and that drinking and driving is fun.
The cousins’ homeboys are Preach (Chris Spencer), a black nationalist with a hypocritical taste for white women, and Crazy Legs (Suli McCullough), who was the best dancer in the ‘hood before he was paralysed in a drive-by shooting. Many of the film’s gags relate to his comically withered legs, proving that Don’t Be a Menace is not concerned with matters of taste.
The film is essentially just a series of Naked Gun-style sketches, and most of the comedy is aimed squarely at two films – Boyz N the Hood (1991) and Menace II Society (1993) – and exploits the cliches that infected nearly every gangsta movie in the 90s.
Ashtray hooks up with Dashiki (Tracey Cherelle Jones), who has seven kids by different fathers (whenever they meet a male, they ask in unison, “Are you my daddy?) and lives at 6969 Penetration Avenue.
She raids the refrigerator for sexual enhancements – licking Kool-Aid off his body, melting government cheese onto his chest (and we won’t even talk about the foot action!) – and announces that she’s pregnant seconds after their encounter.
A gang war ultimately erupts, pitting Ashtray and his friends against Dashiki’s ex-boyfriend, ex-con Toothpick (Darrel Heath) and his boyz.
Despite garnering negative reviews from critics, Don’t Be a Menace has built a strong cult following in recent years. Even on release, stoners held this movie in high regard. Not much has changed there, and it still holds up as a hilarious stoner comedy.
Tracey Cherelle Jones
Loc Dog’s Grandma
Keenen Ivory Wayans
Dave the Crackhead
Loc Dog’s Mother
Tedero Jones Jr.
Samuel Monroe Jr.
Officer Self Hatred
Old School’s Mom
Doo Rag’s Father
Charles Edward Bennett
Terri J. Vaughn