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All About the Benjamins

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
All About the Benjamins
from Film Forum, 03/14/02

If films about arranged marriages are common, urban crime dramas are legion. It seems every month brings us a handful of these films. They usually star shotgun-wielding rock stars and rap stars, and they splash excess sex and violence across the screen. Most of these stories can be summed up like this: "You mess with me, take my stuff, steal my girl, or get in my way, and I'll come after you with a gun, an encyclopedia of cuss words, and a very very loud heavy metal soundtrack!"

This week we have All About the Benjamins. Ice Cube plays Bucum, a Miami bounty hunter who gets entangled in a diamond heist with Reggie, a clumsy grifter (Mike Epps). Normally, Bucum would be dragging Reggie to jail, but when he sees that they could partner in an attempt to catch some big-time crooks, he changes his game. A lost $60 million dollar lottery ticket becomes part of the gamble, so there's a lot of money ($100 bills=Benjamins, you see) at stake, and great civil unrest ensues. But are these unlikely "heroes" after justice, or personal gain?

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) writes, "The few funny moments … are outweighed by a torrent of profanity. Ice Cube needs to either play a tough guy with a soft side or a softie that has a mean streak in him, but his character isn't mean enough or funny enough to carry this movie. Epps has his moments, but he's no Chris Rock, or Tucker for that matter. The two try their hardest to be funny, but after about the 100th F-word, I quit counting the horrendous language and got irritated."

John Adair (Preview) says "brutal" violence and "more than 200 obscenities" gain the film his "most objectionable rating."

Mainstream critics were as harsh or harsher in their judgments. Jay Boyar (The Orlando Sentinel) declares, "The violence and profanity are so gratuitous and vulgar that your mind shuts down self-protectively. 'Remember that time is money,' cautioned the original Benjamin Franklin, and he was right. The 90 minutes you spend at All About the Benjamins can start to feel like a whole fistful of Benjamins."