ZERO STARS/**** Image A Sound A Extras C
starring Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, George Wallace
written and directed by D.J. Pooh
by Walter Chaw A bit of free advice: if you undertake a drinking game in which the trigger word is "n***a" while watching D.J. Pooh's The Wash, you're probably going to die. Another word to the wise: if you don't imbibe lethal doses of some variety of libation while watching The Wash, you're probably going to die regardless. The only sensible way to approach The Wash is, apparently, with rubber gloves and one of those plastic bags dispensed at public walking trails.
I had a bit of trouble, but it appears as though Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg play car-wash attendants named "Sean" and "Dee Loc" (even though Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are introduced on a radio program). Trust me when I say that it's not so much Pirandello as lazy and supercilious. One morning--and again I had difficulty--Sean discovers that his car's been "booted," and that he and Dee Loc have only three days before they're evicted. Then their boss (George Wallace) gets kidnapped--but not by Eminem, who's been stalking him...or something.
All I'm really sure of is that The Wash is a half-assed remake of 1976's Car Wash, and that Dogg, Dre, and Wallace are no Richard Pryor, Garrett Morris, and Ivan Dixon. If you go on the kind assumption that the picture isn't meant to be linear but a sketch comedy instead, one must consider that there don't appear to be any jokes, either. It's an utterly empty experience: neither comedy nor tragedy (though a cameo by Pauly Shore sort of qualifies as both), neither plot-driven nor character-savvy. Worse, The Wash perpetuates the lowest African-American stereotypes in the guise of some kind of reductive social commentary while being surprisingly chaste in its depictions of sexuality and violence.
I'm searching for a way to express the vacuousness of The Wash without somehow accidentally praising it for being every bit as small and moronic as a charity case on a weed bender. (Apologists no doubt see The Wash as a latter-day Confessions of an Opium-Eater.) But the film isn't subversive, just unspeakably bad. It reminds the most in its seedy bungling of those Rutger Hauer exploitation flicks from the early-Seventies (unforgettable gems like Turkish Delight, Hot Sweat, and Dandelions), and believe me I'm saying something significant when I write that The Wash pales even in that comparison.
I've heard a truism that people with substance-abuse problems become emotionally and intellectually arrested at the emotional age at which their addictions began. The Wash accordingly plays like something that might seem funny to a bunch of baked sixteen-year-olds with a video camera. There is no cinematic value to the piece, its arbitrary editing and blind cinematography laggard and irritatingly bush league for its willful incompetence. With dialogue either swallowed or hollered and performances (save the always amusing Wallace) so laid back they're wallpaper, The Wash is Santo & Johnny through a swamp of mounting disinterest. For it to be a travesty, it would first have to register some ephemeral sense of significance. All The Wash manages is a grimy film as thin and foul as a stale drag off a spent blunt.
Lions Gate releases The Wash on DVD in a remarkably crisp and vibrant 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced presentation that handles The Wash's affected gaucherie with agility and fidelity. There are no major problems with the transfer to report. Likewise, the Dolby 5.1 audio makes masterful use of the sixth channel, with its throbbing bass backbeats a near-constant underscore to the inane events languorously unfolding onscreen. Dialogue is presented across the front mains (its incomprehensibility no fault of the soundmen), though the few atmospherics (mostly car radios moving from left to right) don't see much time in the surrounds.
The Wash comes with an interview segment filmed on a junket and conducted by someone who sounds 12 years old. The poor lass asks things like, "What was it like directing something that you wrote?" and, "Wasn't a lot of the cast your friends?" It's a half-step above that old Farley sketch on SNL where the question always began, "You remember that part when... " and ending with, "That was great!" There are no real revelations in the interviews to the surprise of no one, and red carpet clips captured at the sparsely attended premiere of The Wash are somehow more stultifying and inexpressibly sad. Rounding out the disc: a trailer and a video, plus a badly hidden Easter egg off the main menu featuring trailers for Cube II, American Psycho II, State Property, and Monster's Ball.
A second disc resolves itself to be the film's soundtrack, its expansive (and surprisingly excellent) track list follows:
- On The Blvd--Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg
- Bring 2--Bilal
- Blow My Buzz--D12
- Benefit of the Doubt--Truth Hurts Feat
- Bad Intentions--Dr. Dre/Knoc-turn'al
- Get Fucked Up With Me--Xzibit
- My High--Yahroo
- Holla--Busta Rhymes
- Bubba Talk--Bubba Sparxxx
- Good Lovin'--Shaunta
- Feels Like I Can Fly--Daks
- Gotta Get This Money--Supafly
- Str8 West Coast--Knoc-Turn'al
- No--Joe Beast
- The Wash--Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg
96 minutes; R; 1.85:1 (16x9-enhanced); English DD 5.1; CC; English, Spanish subtitles; DVD-9; Region One; Lions Gate/Trimark