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FILM REVIEW: Marlon Wayans Bears It All in Netflix Comedy NAKED

FILM REVIEW: Marlon Wayans Bears It All in Netflix Comedy NAKED

There’s something eerily familiar about the Netflix comedy Naked, which the company will release to its subscribers this Friday. A man, in love with a girl, keeps reliving the same day over and over again. And it’s a particularly fraught day, given that he begins it naked and hungover on the floor of a classy hotel lobby and it’s his wedding day. Similarities to Groundhog Day of course come to mind, but it is really the Swedish movie “Naken” which this new film is a remake of. And while Naked isn’t exactly groundbreaking comedy, it certainly has a big heart, just enough laughs, and a new twist on olds themes to keep you entertained on a Netflix afternoon.

Marlon Wayans plays Rob, a failure-to-launch substitute teacher about to marry way above his league, the determined and successful Megan (Regina Hall, everywhere these days it seems). The union is opposed by a bevy of characters, including Megan’s overprotective father Reginald (Dennis Haysbert) and her conniving ex-boyfriend (Scott Foley). But Rob has to overcome more than just a couple of jealous cock-blocks. Really the trouble is himself and his fear of commitment and lack of seriousness. In a refreshing and amusing twist on the old tale of a poor girl getting the rich guy, here it is the messy guy having to get the grounded girl.

Sure, it is not completely original, but it works because the chance that Rob gets to prove himself—and his perseverance—is provided by the gods. After a night out to celebrate his last moments of being single, he awakes face down and completely naked in the hotel elevator. He then has a limited amount of time until his fate is reset again, and it becomes clear that his task is to give Megan the happiest day of her life, lest he be doomed to be in an infinite loop of nude embarrassment forever.

All wash-rinse-repeat style movies (think Edge of Tomorrow in addition to the classic Bill Murray rom-com) have several recurring tricks, and Naked uses all of them. Funny moments can be conjured up by a character reliving the same sequence over and over again in a rapid fire cinematic succession, and Rob and the ex-boyfriend find no love lost for each other in one such scene. Challenges and obstacles can also be overcome with determination—filmmaker determination that is. Rob has obvious challenges in his way—how to get out of the hotel without being stopped by police or onlookers, how to find a tux, how to make it to the wedding. Some problems effective at making you laugh, while others (the vows he didn’t prepare) are more predictable and less effective.

Naked even has a couple of unexpected twists in the end—after all, the movie is a mini-whodunnit that requires you to figure out how or thanks to who Rob ended up in the birthday suit predicament in the first place. A climatic scene with a church bell and a fire are also noteworthy for their comedic effect. The trick of burgeoning relationships with some of the side-characters he encounters (one also used in Tom Cruise’s film), has always seemed more problematic to me.

The little twist on which a movie of this style depends wears thin after a while, and the character’s exasperation in some ways becomes your own. The time rewind moniker has never quite been something I can wholly suspend my disbelief for, and in this movie some of the supposedly emotional moments are more clichéd. But if you’re looking for a couple of good easy laughs and a couple of “aw, that was sweet” scenes, you could do a lot worse than this effective and at times hilarious slapstick comedy.

Grade: B

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About The Author

J. Don Birnam

J. Don Birnam, a voting member of the New York Film Critics Online, has been a movie lover since he saw the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in theaters at a tender age, and has been a devoted student of American film history every since. His favorite films range from Back to the Future to West Side Story, depending on the time of day, and has a mildly unhealthy obsessions with the Academy Awards. Any similarity with the slightly unstable writer in the seminal 1944 film 'The Lost Weekend' is pure coincidence

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