Fresh off promotional stops in Dallas, Atlanta and Miami, comic ingenue and Malibu's Most Wanted star and co-creator Jamie Kennedy is looking haggard but acting pleasant as he gets his chill on in a faux-Ocean Pacific surfer T-shirt at Midtown St. Louis' posh Chase Park Plaza Hotel.
"The S-T-L don't look that hard," says Kennedy of the place some wags dub America's most dangerous city. "It's hard right here, though, because that pool doesn't have any water in it," he adds, staring at an empty pool on an unseasonably chilly, drizzly early-spring day.
Waterless swimming pools are about as hardcore as it gets in Malibu (a.k.a. "the 'Bu"), which serves as domestic headquarters for Kennedy's Afro-obsessed character, B-Rad. Centered around how B-Rad's politically ambitious father (played by Ryan O'Neal) deals with his son's sometimes tawdry zeal for hip-hop culture, Malibu's Most Wanted is a stealthily socially conscious flick that owes a significant debt to Chris Rock's 1993 gangster-rap spoof, CB4.
"There were moments we were doing the movie where I was, like, 'Is this, like, CB4?'" Kennedy acknowledges.
Although Malibu and CB4 both poke fun at youths from upper-middle-class upbringings who imagine their pristine burgs as havens for bullet-riddled gangster activity, Kennedy's comedy turns black and white stereotypes on their heads. To wit, B-Rad utters lines such as "I've always been down with the brizown [i.e., 'brown']" while two professionally trained black actors (played by Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson) hired by B-Rad's dad's campaign to scare the black out of his son are, in reality, whiter on the inside than an untoasted marshmallow.
"There's some social commentary there," says Kennedy, whose best-known effort to date has been The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, a hilarious sketch-comedy television show. "No one would believe us if we tried to do it seriously, so we did a comedy."
The goofy sheen gives Diggs' Juilliard-trained character -- described by Kennedy as "a definite saltine" who can "turn on the Clorox charm" -- comedic cover to utter the typically taboo term "wigger" ad nauseam in his ill-fated attempts to break down B-Rad.
"It ["wigger"] is said by a black dude, so I don't think it's that offensive," says Kennedy. "If a white guy said it, it's probably offensive. There are certain things that white people just can't say."
But even though those of the Caucasian persuasion might not be able to drop N-bombs in front of true-blue brothers, stereotypical ethnic lines have been permanently blurred in terms of who can rightfully co-opt hip-hop culture and its thugged-out modus operandi -- even in a 'hood such as Malibu.
"The 'Bu is hard," says Kennedy with more than a hint of sarcasm. "Sometimes, you rollin' down on PCH [the Pacific Coast Highway] and a fool be crossin'. How you gonna get around that?"