I’ve been on a bit of a Netflix binge with movies lately so while sitting around my apartment last night I decided to enjoy my dinner while watching a new comedy from the streaming service called “Naked”, starring one of the modern kings of situational, or at lest parody, comedy Marlon Wayans. When all was said and done I had a few chuckles and felt hit right in the feels, but there’s nothing too memorable or original about this cautionary comedy tale as it hits all the right notes, but uses tired clichés and unoriginal concepts to get there.
“Naked” is a remake of the 2000 Swedish film “Naken” and seeks Marlon Wayans play Rob Anderson, a lazy and irresponsible child at heart preparing for his wedding to his girlfriend Megan, Regina Hall, who is the daughter of a wealthy businessman. When Anderson wakes up naked in an elevator with his wedding already behind he rushes to the church only to find that when the church bells toll for the hour mark time resets, sending him back to the elevator until he gets things right. As the hour keeps playing over and over again Anderson tries many different tactics of getting to the “I dos” before the bell hits, learning about his selfish nature and growing up a bit with every reset while also unraveling the mystery behind his circumstances.
I’ll be honest there’s not a whole lot to say that defines this film better than “unoriginal and uninspired”. It’s a story filled with easy, cheap laughs, tired clichés, and an undeserved moral message that really offers nothing new. That being said however, “Naked” can be funny and enjoyable at times and while its deeper sentiment is, in itself, a tired and overdone cliché there is some emotional depth to be appreciated from this film, just not enough to make it salvageable. We’ve seen it all before, but in the right hands overdone concepts CAN be acceptable. “Naked” kind of rides the lines between simplistic comedic pandering to the lowest common denominator and entertaining reuse of comedy tropes to great effect. It’s one of those films that you know is just the same old song and dance we’ve seen so many times before, but it can still be fun to watch if you allow yourself to enjoy it.
Star Marlon Wayans holds this film squarely on his shoulders. He’s the centerpiece of everything as Rob Anderson, a somewhat complicated character who shows signs of being a truly responsible and committed adult but is really a child in a man’s body afraid of or unwilling to fully embrace commitment. It takes an incredibly strange occurrence for him to make the jump from kind-of mature husband material to a full on dedicated man, but honestly as much as we see Anderson grow over the course of this film and Wayans provides a very dedicated performance there’s not much that makes this character redeemable. Anderson ends up being a pretty nice guy, and we see some great aspects of his personality ahead of time, but in the end most of what he learns isn’t from soul searching of self-realization but rather learning from the mistakes of others which is deep to be sure, but undermines the whole point of the film which involves personal growth especially with the subtle religious undertones. It makes it hard to route for a guy who does things to avoid the consequences more than he does them out of true love and dedication to another person.
My biggest gripe with this film is actually its time-traveling plot devise. It’s very phoned in and while it could have been used to great effect what we get is the same old mishmash of mishaps that all end up teaching Anderson different ways to plan out the perfect day. Even worse however is the film is terribly inconsistent, with each rewind in time seemingly escaping its 1-hour limit more and more despite all the events being shown happening over the same amount of time. Confuisng? You don’t know the half of it! Just don’t think to hard about it and you might enjoy it. Not to mention aspects of each rewind bleed into another to the point where by the time Anderson figures everything out you realize he not only lacked the time to get everything put together in an hour, but also lacked the personal relationships he forms each hour with different people to really make things work in the end…because every reset they forget they even met him don’t they? Everything plays out WAY to perfectly for him in those final moments and even the eventual resolution of the films elevator mystery is rushed and muddled…and if I might say extremely predictable.
While “Naked” offers a few laughs and entertaining moments, in the end is contrived and unoriginal. What it does offer in quality entertainment is not nearly enough to overlook the paradoxes, inconsistencies, and boring clichés that keep it from becoming anything more than an average-at-best comedy ripoff of much better films. It might include a touching moral message in its conclusion, but there’s little that can save this comedic mess even if you’re willing to sit back and overlook its ridiculous premise. It might try hard to stand out among its predecessors, but instead it falls flat and reminds us how these formulas have been utilized to much better results in the past.