The plot has potential, especially in this age of CEOs getting in trouble: a CEO who fakes his own kidnapping in order to get out of paying his newly ex-wife. However, in Jeff Byrd's not-screened-for-critics "King's Ransom", all of the pieces are there and yet, the picture seems like a series of wasted opportunities.
The film stars Anthony Anderson ("Barbershop") as Malcolm King, a CEO who's got more money than he knows what to do with and a newly ex-wife (Kellita Smith) who's got her eyes on getting as much of his money as she possibly can. His best idea to get out of the situation? Kidnap himself. Soon afterwards, however, he realizes that he's not the only one who had the idea - there's also a former employee passed over for a promotion (Nicole Parker) and a guy who just lost his job at a burger shop mascot (comedian Jay Mohr, who can now officially never make fun of anyone again, although that point was reached when everyone on Mohr's "Last Comic Standing" show was funnier than he was. Ok, I'm done.)
So, we get a series of the usual mistaken identities and other goofs, none of which are partcularly funny. I suppose it would be more funny, however, if the movie didn't operate entirely on stereotypes - just about every which one you can think of - and cliches. We also get a series of random supporting characters, such as a booty-obsessed car attendant (Donald Faison) and a series of skyline shots every several minutes to cut to the next scene.
The movie has just about everyone from Mohr to Anderson to Smith overacting wildly in order to get the joke across, which makes everything sink even just a bit lower. Anderson, who I usually don't like, actually gets a few minor chuckles here, although his character is so unlikable I wondered why I should care. However, everyone is else is pretty lousy - Charlie Murphy ("Chappelle's Show") and Donald Faison ("Scrubs") are especially wasted in nothing roles.
"King's Ransom" offers a few slight laughs, but it's mostly a series of wasted opportunities.
VIDEO: "King's Ransom" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by New Line. The presentation is another fine effort from the studio, with only a few minor issues spotted. Sharpness and detail are mostly good, although the picture's never razor sharp.
The presentation does suffer from a couple of tiny bits of pixelation and a couple of minor bits of edge enhancement. However, at least the print looked clean and there were no instances of shimmering or other concerns. Colors never looked too vibrant - by intent, from the looks of it - but also never appeared smeary or otherwise problematic.
SOUND: "King's Ransom" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Mainly a "comedy mix", the audio is spread out across the front speakers, with not a whole lot of support from the surrounds. The hip-hop soundtrack sounds fairly bassy and dynamic, and dialogue comes through clearly.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, commentary with actors Jay Mohr and Anthony Anderson, along with director Jeff Byrd, a "making of" documentary, the film's trailer, 21 deleted scenes, a gag reel (the gag reel isn't even funny) and promos for other New Line movies.
Final Thoughts: "King's Ransom" could have been a very funny, very sharp comedy, but instead it offers a couple of minor laughs and a whole lot of relying on tired stereotypes and cliches. It also seems odd that a comedy like this, clearly targeted towards adults, went for the PG-13 instead of the R-rating. New Line does offer a nice DVD, with fine audio/video quality and a fairly large helping of supplements. Fans may want to check it out, but others should skip it.
The Film D+