Here we have a definite candidate for the year's worst picture, and it comes just a few weeks after director Marcos Siega's other failure, "Pretty Persuasion."
This time Siega shares the blame with star Nick Cannon, whose impressive breakout performance made 2002's "Drumline" such a surprise hit. Now Cannon co-produces and co-writes the "story" for "Underclassman," a kind of fifth-rate "Beverly Hills Cop" knock-off.
Cannon plays Tre Stokes, a smart aleck young black cop going undercover at a ritzy white high school to rout out a murderer. Of course, Tre's behavior gets him kicked off the force and so he must finish the job alone.
There could not be a lazier job of screenwriting; the writers get so bored with their concoction that they desperately insert some kind of action or sports scene every ten minutes: a car chase, basketball, a fight, a jet ski race, paintball, more basketball, another car chase, etc. Cannon is abrasive and obnoxious, the comedy is not funny and the thrills are not thrilling.
Roselyn Sanchez looks amazing as an older teacher who has a highly improbable romance with Tre, but poor Cheech Marin is utterly wasted as the humorless police chief, and Kelly Hu is stuck in an insulting role as a lady cop who eats too much ice cream.