Marlon Wayans, Michael Tiddes, and Rick Alvarez take a break from spoofing horror flicks (the Haunted House series) and mainstream smut (Fifty Shades of Black) to present Naked, a Netflix Original (and remake of 2000’s Sweden comedy Naken) that borrows the framework of narrative-looping to make a funny and surprisingly sweet movie that you’ll want to watch over and over again.
Rob (Wayans) flies by the seat of his pants, and admits to liking it. It’s a choice of living that has been accepted by his forgiving fiancé Megan (Regina Hall), but his aloof attitude finally catches up on their wedding day. Rob wakes up, completely nude, on the floor of a hotel elevator with no memory of the events leading up to this awkward situation. He escapes but finds out – through trial and error – that once the church bells ring after an hour of regaining consciousness, Rob is transported back to the elevator to repeat his embarrassment all over again.
Wayans has a current obsession with naturism. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a specific nudity clause in his contract (“Mr. Wayans must appear shirtless and/or show his buttocks in, at least, one-third of the feature film”). His nudity has been gratuitous in the past, but the gag is used to great effect in Naked as Wayans’ Rob, hastily, looks for items that could double as pants while figuring out what the hell is going on. Wayans, who is also credited as a producer, is wise to keep himself outside of the joke; his desperation builds the audience’s amusement, and his distress earns our sympathy.
Naked is also patient; another surprise considering how rapidly this filmmaking team usually works. As soon as Rob figures out the formula of his time warp (the conception of this loop is never explained), he starts to use his repetitive hour to reflect and strategize. A highlight featuring Rob memorizing a fight sequence is clever because, again, there’s distance between the actor and why the scene is funny, but also because it hints at how often Rob had to relive this confrontation.
As the actual wedding begins and Rob figures out why responsibility is necessary, Naked becomes a charming rom-com with appealing chemistry between Wayans and Hall – reuniting the actors from the early days of the Scary Movie franchise. There’s also an appearance by musician Brian McKnight, a cameo that’s cheesy but comically self-aware.
Audiences used to the comedy produced by Wayans, Tiddes, and Alvarez will also appreciate the focus on physical comedy rather than the usual routine of sexual shocks. I’m sure these filmmakers will eventually scratch that itch and make a wildly inappropriate comedy within the next year or so, but Wayans’ body is much funnier when it’s rubbery than when he’s humping something wearing a rubber.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie