King's Ransom

Rated PG-13 2005

Some movies are ecstatically terrible, some jokes so cheap they become priceless. No such luck with King's Ransom, which is just numbingly, unreasonably bad. A priggish tycoon (Anthony Anderson, barely passable) tries to protect his fortune from a divorce settlement by faking his own kidnapping. He fails, not just because it's a dumb idea, but because some other schemers had the same idea, and all the kidnap plots become tangled up. As a farce it's flaccid, and as a Ruthless People ripoff it's catastrophic. Director Jeff Byrd seems to be stumped by the most basic questions of direction: where to put the camera and what to tell the actors. Standing out, sort of, among this high school drama-club ensemble is a dully shticky performance from Jay Mohr, as an idiot white-trash kidnapper. You can almost see Mohr restrain himself from transcending the material, as if he's whored himself out here in exchange for a green light on some pet directing project. It's something to think about, anyway, to keep awake.

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