It seemed impossible that Vondie Curtis Hall could direct a movie that’s as bad as “Glitter,” but he has: “Waist Deep.” And Mariah Carey is nowhere in sight.
This time, our recording-artist-turned-actor is rapper The Game, who wears the same sneer on his tattooed face the whole time. But he’s not even the worst part. Even though he plays the Los Angeles gang leader who orders the carjacking/kidnapping that fuels the film’s ... er ... plot, he barely registers.
No, the culprit here is the script by Hall and Darin Scott, from a story by Michael Mahern, which steals from “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Thelma & Louise,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and pretty much every rap video ever made.
Former model Tyrese Gibson stars as O2, an ex-con who goes on a bank-robbing spree with hottie street hustler Coco (Meagan Good) to raise the $100,000 in ransom money he needs to rescue his young son (played by Hall’s real-life son, H. Hunter Hall).
Ghetto cliches and unintentional hilarity ensue.
But “Waist Deep” is so much more concerned with its fantastic-looking actors than with story or character development, it should have been called “Skin Deep.”
Within the film’s first few minutes, O2 has stripped down to a tight tank top — which he does while driving a convertible Chevy Impala. Giant chunks of time are devoted to watching Coco strut around in a wide array of high heels and itty-bitty clothing.
What should have been the most emotional scene of all — in which O2 talks about the babymama who took his money and abandoned him and their son, and Coco tearfully recalls how she lost her own young boy to a stray bullet — is shot and edited so distractingly, it’s hard to feel connected at all. Curtis repeatedly cuts away, mid-sentence, to O2’s piercing left eye, or Coco’s pouty, lip-glossed mouth — all photographed with the tasteful softness of pregnancy-test commercial.
It’s a rare quiet moment. Mostly, “Waist Deep” is about car chases, shootouts and robberies — with an emphasis on hand-held footage and jump cuts — as O2 and Coco pit rival South Central L.A. gangs against each other while putting together the money they need.
The bank heists are fun, though, as the two assume a variety of disguises and comic distractions to pull off their crimes. But then in the midst of all this action, and while he’s supposedly worried about his son, O2 somehow finds the emotional strength not only to hook up with Coco, but to fall in love with her in a matter of days.
Perhaps the most believable part of all, though, is a cameo from Kimora Lee Simmons, the glamorous diva who runs the Baby Phat clothing line. Here she plays — what else? — a fashion maven who sells stolen clothing from her house. She’s got it all: Gucci, Versace, Valentino, even a little Baby Phat.
Now that’s called method acting.