All About The Benjamins (2002)

(On DVD, June 2003) I don’t think anyone will ever claim this to be a great film, but frankly, it doesn’t have to be: As soon as we’re dropped into this lush Miami backdrop, with Ice Cube playing a burly protagonist, the rest takes care of itself. As the title suggests, the story revolves around millions of dollars, to which we can add Cube’s bounty-hunter, a con artist, evil euro-villains, hot girls, sunny locations and enough ebonic profanities to exasperate even a hardened sailor. The rhythm is well sustained, the locations are worth looking at and the chemistry between Mike Epps and Ice Cube works well enough to make us forget that Epps often tries to be as irritating as Martin Lawrence. Certainly the female side of the film’s Miami creds is impressive: Valarie Rae Miller, Eva Mendes and Carmen Chaplin make the most of their limited screen time and if Mendes has looked better in other films, she here displays some good comedic skills. Plot-wise, m’well, the film takes some regrettable shortcuts: the importance of the lottery ticket seems to diminish midway through and there are a few unfortunate coincidences here and there. But is it really worth discussing when the whole package is so charming? Probably not. Throw that film in with the Bad Boys series, 2 Fast 2 Furious and reruns of Miami Vice for plenty of undemanding fun. The DVD contains a pleasing array of short documentaries (including a general piece on music video directors making the leap to the big screen) as well as a mildly engaging audio commentary.

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