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Published: Friday, 9/2/2005

Movie review: Underclassmen *

You know a movie is bad when the film's publicist is sitting directly behind you and she laughs through all the serious parts. Like when the hero, between shooting people, says he wishes he could go back to school, and he means it.

The new Nick Cannon action-comedy vehicle Underclassman is a situation comedy in search of a network - a desperate network. That said, I will now field questions: Anyone? You? No? You're just ducking in to get out of the rain?

Let's start with Cannon fans.

Anyone?

OK, fine, I'll start:

Who is Nick Cannon?

Well, according to the people who are paid to say this, Nick Cannon is an exciting up-and-coming multimedia artist who rocketed from complete obscurity to semiobscurity with the 2002 surprise hit, Drumline. He is 25 but appears to be 15. He is thin and he talks very fast and he is not Chris Tucker, although comparisons to a young Eddie Murphy are welcomed by his publicists.

He can be seen every other hour on MTV's Nick Cannon Presents: Wild N' Out, which is proof that improvisational comedy should be a licensed profession and subject to same regulations the FDA uses when dealing with rancid meat.

OK, more questions.

"Um, what is the film about?"

Ah, good question. Underclassman is about a veteran (Cannon) of the Los Angeles Police Department who begins the film by chasing perpetrators through what must be the same stone-washed Southern California alleyways Starsky and Hutch chased perps 30 years ago. He uses bicycles and recreational vehicles and things blow up and his captain (Cheech Marin) fires him and says, "You've got

two days to pack your stuff,"



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