Keenen Ivory Wayans' biggest hits on either side of the camera -- I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! and Scary Movie -- proved that broader is better for the eldest Wayans. When he takes himself even slightly more seriously, exchanging his comedic persona for action-hero vanity, he squanders his market value. In A Low Down Dirty Shame, Wayans hasn't yet sunk to the humorless nadir of The Glimmer Man, but his thoughts are not really on parody, either, which costs this movie dearly. Lazily spoofing Shaft, or so his character's similar name and profession would indicate, Wayans seems more interested in Shaft as an icon of cool, rather than Shaft as tongue-in-cheek cinematic construct. The problem is, the former is not very funny, and Wayans doesn't have the stoic presence to pull it off. So instead of an inspired lampoon of blaxploitation films, he turns in a tired addition to their number, notable for its incapable performances and a quintessentially '90s sense of humor that relies on gay jokes and contemporary urban sass. With four times the energy of everyone else onscreen, newcomer Jada Pinkett at least serves as an attention-getter, if not much of a mitigating factor in the film's ultimate failure. Whether it fits into his preferred career trajectory or not, Wayans is much better suited at double-fisting rubber chickens than handguns.
by Derek Armstrong review