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Some Like it Hot is the classic comedy by Billy Wilder, standing as one of many Marilyn Monroe’s iconic performances. It has spawned countless similar comedies, one being the widely popular White Chicks coming from the Wayans brothers. Some Like it Hot begins with two musician buddies working in a speakeasy. Joe and Jerry work under the mafioso Spats, who owns the speakeasy. An informant nicknamed Toothpick Charlie alerts the police of the speakeasy, prompting Joe and Jerry to try and escape with a band that needs their musical talent. After finding a girls-only band and a small performance a few miles from town, they decide to go for the small gig. On their way out, they see Spats exacting his revenge on Toothpick Charlie. Spats sees them, and decides that they must be killed as well. Joe and Jerry narrowly escape, and decide to dress up as women and take the job with the all-girls band, because they know that Spats and crew will hunt them down. Joe and Jerry leave Chicago on a train to Miami, under the guise of the saxophone and bull fiddle players, Josephine and Daphne (after Jerry decides he doesn’t quite like the name Geraldine). Once they get on board, they meet the beautiful Sugar, and both become infatuated with her. Jerry/Daphne takes the blame when Sugar’s flask of alcohol falls out, making them friends. Later that night, Jerry/Daphne takes some of Joe’s alcohol to drink with Sugar, but the other girls hear about it and it soon becomes a group affair. Sugar is lost in the commotion, and Joe/Josephine goes and has a conversation with her. They are now both friendly with Sugar, but must constantly remind themselves that they are “women” and cannot make advances on her. As they reach Miami, Jerry/Daphne is pursued by the millionaire, Osgood. Meanwhile, Joe swipes the only male’s luggage – Bienstock, the band manager. He uses it to adopt a second disguise – the heir to Shell Oil, known only as Junior. With this getup, he goes to set up a chance meeting with Sugar. She is infatuated with “Junior”, and they set up a date on “his” yacht. In reality, this is Osgood’s yacht, while Daphne/Jerry takes Osgood out onto the land to have their date. Those two have a good time dancing, while things get hot and heavy between Sugar and Joe/Junior. As each of them return to their lodgings, Jerry mentions such a good time and a potential marriage between him and Osgood. Unfortunately for them, Spats and his gang are in town. They are recognized, and they have to make a clean escape. Sugar is called by “Junior”, telling her that he has to move to South America. Joe and Jerry, in an attempt to escape, see Spats killed by the authorities of the mafia, and are chased even more. In Sugar’s melancholy song, Joe (dressed as Josephine) goes up and kisses Sugar for what he thinks will be the final time. Osgood comes to the rescue, agreeing to take Jerry and Joe to the yacht to elope with “Daphne”. At the last possible second, Sugar shows up, realizing Josephine is Junior and Junior is Joe. The two confess their love and kiss, while Jerry spends all the while convincing Osgood not to marry him. It concludes with Osgood finding out Jerry is a man, and replying that “Nobody’s perfect”. In the Some Like it Hot-inspired film White Chicks, we open on a similar duo – FBI agents Kevin and Marcus, dressed up in disguises to catch a drug dealer. Cocaine is supposed to come under the guise of “ice cream”, but Kevin and Marcus are chewed out by their superior when they apprehend the actual ice cream man instead. The chief lets them know they’re on a tight leash, but he allows them to escort the high-class Wilson sisters as they land in the Hamptons. The Wilson sisters are suspected to be the next victims of a kidnapper, who the FBI are investigating. Kevin and Marcus, along with Brittany and Tiffany Wilson, get in a small collision and there are minute injuries to the girls. They are nothing to be stressed over, but the girls refuse to leave the hotel where they stop at. Kevin and Marcus know that this will be the end of them if they can’t complete this simple escort assignment, so they decide to dress up as the girls and go themselves. Kevin and Marcus as Brittany and Tiffany meet the girls’ friends, who question the two at first, but believe they’ve just gotten some surgery done. They also run into the Wilson sisters’ counterparts, the equally-as-wealthy Heather and Megan Vandergeld. Basketball player Latrell Spencer begins to pursue Tiffany/Marcus, while Kevin takes interest in the reporter Denise. In true Some Like it Hot fashion, Kevin convinces Marcus to go on a date with Latrell, while he swipes his keys and takes Denise on a date to Latrell’s house (pretending to be him, of course). Denise reveals some information about the main suspect of Kevin and Marcus’s case, which he views as a success and continues on his date. Meanwhile, Marcus calls Kevin to return Latrell’s car and keys, to which he reluctantly agrees. The next night, the girls go out with Kevin and Marcus dressed up to a nightclub, where they see Heather and Megan. They dance-battle, with the Vandergelds getting beat by the duo of Kevin/Brittany and Marcus/Tiffany. One of the Wilson sisters’ friends hopes to get the attention of Heather’s boyfriend Heath with their victory, but to no avail. Their depressed friend tells the consoling Kevin and Marcus the secret that the Vandergeld family is actually broke. Things start to look good for the two, but they are quickly met with bad news – the real Wilson sisters have heard of “their” adventures in the Hamptons and figure someone has been impersonating them. Rival FBI agents Gomez and Harper search Kevin and Marcus’s room and find their girl masks, ready to report the news to the chief. They stop the real Wilson sisters as they arrive, and strip them in front of the chief in an attempt to prove that they are actually men. Considering that they stripped the real Wilson sisters, Gomez and Harper are fired. The chief goes to see Kevin and Marcus in their room, where not long ago Marcus’s wife found Kevin still dressed as a woman. The two lose their jobs, with Marcus also losing his wife. They find out who really is behind the kidnappings – Warren Vandergeld and Heath, Heather’s boyfriend. The fashion show goes on, where the real Wilson sisters get mixed up with Kevin and Marcus. The imposters are revealed, and Vandergeld initiates the kidnapping. He is stopped when he realizes he’s got Marcus instead of the real Tiffany. Shots are fired, with Latrell saving Tiffany and Kevin saving Denise, who was reporting on the scene. Vandergeld and crew are apprehended, Denise gives Kevin another chance, and Latrell is heartbroken that Marcus isn’t white. The girls meet up with the now-revealed Kevin and Marcus, and they promise that they’ll all go shopping together sometime.
Some Like it Hot boasts an impressive cast – Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon all share the spotlight. Monroe adds dimension to the stereotype of the “dumb blonde”, making it seem like she really was the character of Sugar. The transition from the infatuation Sugar has with Junior into her beautiful singing voice made Monroe’s character seem more than one dimensional. Tony Curtis was a great lead, and had fantastic chemistry with Lemmon. The two really did seem like lifelong friends, especially in the scene where Curtis as Joe tells Jerry to remember he’s a girl – he says it in such a way that makes the viewer think that the two have known each other for years and Joe knows how his buddy gets. Lemmon deservedly was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. He really brings his character to life, in particular in the 180 his character does when he’s about to go on his/her date. Lemmon portrays Jerry’s sighful reluctance well, and only does better when he shows what a great time he has dancing with Osgood and the way he reminisces about it after the night’s over. In White Chicks, one word can describe the casting choices – chemistry. The Wayans brothers aren’t A-list actors, and the only others that come close are Terry Crews and Frankie Faison. However, the fact of the matter is that everyone meshes really well together. Shawn and Marlon Wayans obviously play off each other’s humor often. Maitland Ward and Anna Dudek as the real Wilson sisters also complemented each other well. Overall, there was only really one standout performance, and that was Terry Crews. His intimidating physique combined with his inherent goofiness helped make his character laugh-out-loud hilarious.
A lot of what is likable about Some Like it Hot can also be said about White Chicks, as the latter has obvious inspiration from the former. In both Some Like it Hot and White Chicks, the humor is genuinely hilarious. The topics covered are brought up through the absurd situation that the characters are in, making it fresh and not dumb, everyday humor. In regard to White Chicks, the humor is of a more racial nature and it constantly refers back to the fact that “hey we’re men dressed up as women” which is sort of cheap. This is why one of the funniest scenes in White Chicks is Terry Crews singing along to “A Thousand Miles” – it uses the characters’ situation as a set up for Terry Crews to be hilarious, instead of the sole fact that “hey we’re actually dudes”.
Some Like it Hot and White Chicks share similar themes. In both films, we see two buddies put in situations that only a woman would be in, and through that situation they make their lives better and form relationships that they would’ve never expected. In Some Like it Hot, this equates to escaping the mafia and meeting Sugar and Osgood. In White Chicks, Kevin meets Denise, Marcus renews his relationship with Gina, and they become friends with the other girls. Traditional roles are reversed – the men are stuck, trapped, and forced to pretend to be something they’re not to accomplish something. Mulan would be proud. The overarching theme is the overcoming of gender roles and what it can lead to.
White Chicks wears its influences on its sleeve. The two movies are similar in countless ways – outlandish comedies about a buddy duo that lightheartedly deal with the semi-controversial subjects of gender/racial equality, expectations (and exceeding them), and sex. Both use crime as a central plot device, although one duo is running from it and another is fighting to beat it. The differences are less readily apparent than the similarities. White Chicks focuses on the racial aspect as well as the genderbending. Some Like it Hot alludes to the situation the characters are in significantly less than White Chicks does, which makes it a better film, in my opinion. How funny is a joke you have to explain over and over again?
That said, both Some Like it Hot and White Chicks are hilarious movies. Both films are recommendable to those in high school and older – Some Like it Hot has a lot of subtleties a younger person wouldn’t catch, and White Chicks is quite crude in nature. They each governed a PG-13 rating, and for good reason. As previously mentioned, both films deal with semi-mature topics, with White Chicks being vulgar about it. Some jokes may fall short, and some stand the test of time, making both comedies worth a watch at least once. White Chicks is more humorous, and Some Like it Hot is better as an overall film, but both will have you busting out in laughter.
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