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Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans)

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Before Scary Movie, the Wayans family took a switchblade to the homeboy genre with this tongue-in-cheek homage to the swathe of black ghetto movies.

Teenager Ashtray (Shawn Wayans) is dumped in the violent South Central neighbourhood, where his mother makes it clear she won’t be back (‘You know there ain’t any positive black females in these movies’). In desperation, Ashtray turns to his brain-damaged cousin Loc Dog (Marlon Wayans) for guidance.

Instead he gets introduced to madmen like Toothpick (Darrel Heath) and girls like Dashiki (Tracey Cherelle-Jones), the area’s most prolific unwed mother. Slowly, Ashtray is broken down by the culture – thanks to Loc Dog’s perennial search to match his outfit to his armoury – and when he hooks up with Dashiki, he risks the wrath of a local crime king, and stumbles into the middle of a gang war…

In the words on of one critic, ‘parody happens when cultural supply exceeds demand.’ Thanks to the 1991 breakthrough of Boyz n the Hood , Afro-American films began to perform at the box office, but most proved inferior to John Singleton’s superb drama. Which provides the Wayans with a dilemma: if your source material is weak, how can it improve by being ridiculed?

The answer is to adopt the approach of those other brothers, the Zuckers, and machine gun the gags across the screen knowing that some will stick. One beneficiary of this strategy is Keenan Ivory Wayans (one of six family members to get a credit), playing a mailman who shouts the word ‘message’ in advance of weighty dialogue, cutting down a thousand film-makers (of all colours) in the process.

production details
USA | 89 minutes | 1996

Director: Paris Barclay
Script: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Phil Beauman

cast
Shawn Wayans as Ashtray
Marlon Wayans as Loc Dog
Tracey Cherelle Jones as Dashiki
Chris Spencer as Preach
Vivica A. Fox as Ashtray’s Mother
Rappin’ Granny as Sister Williams
Suli McCullough as Crazy Legs
Bernie Mac as Officer Self Hatred
Faizon Love as Rufus
Keenen Ivory Wayans as Mailman
Kim Wayans as Mrs. Johnson
Helen Martin as Loc Dog’s Grandma
Virginia Watson as Loc Dog’s Mom
Darrel Heath as Toothpick
Omar Epps as Malik

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