Regardless of their inconsistency and, at times, downright brazenness, Snoop Dogg’s records have always been like a form of musical THC. Appropriately, his allure can best be described as something like an addiction. Ever since he sauntered onto the scene as a charismatic 19-year-old and helped define a genre for countless geeky suburban hip-hop heads, Snoop has managed to maintain a now retro-feeling gangsta vibe in today’s hip-hop marketplace where barking passes for lyrical acuity and pint-sized 2Pac rip-offs reign supreme.
But recent years haven’t been all gin ‘n’ juice for Snoop. Thanks to some sketchy business decisions (his ill-advised jaunt with No Limit), the gratuitous slayings of hip-hop’s two biggest ambassadors and the hedonistic state of music in the late ’90s, fans began to forget their Doggfather. However, with the recent rekindling of his relationship with Dr. Dre and the making of what has to be the best “VH1 Behind the Music” yet, Snoop has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. And what better way to cash in on a career revival than with a hastily-thrown-together, shoddily written/directed horror film?
At times, “Bones” shows signs of its desire to be what it should’ve been — 90 minutes of campy, blaxploitative guilty pleasure goodness, with Snoop dispensing witticisms and words suffixed with “-izzo” like they were rolling papers. Instead, it aims at that key demographic of consumers who come to the theatre gossiping about the death of Dawson’s dad and worrying about what time mom’s coming back in the Explorer.
Adding to 2001’s already-ridiculous count of supposedly smart/stylish teen thrillers (“Forsaken,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Valentine”), “Bones” centers on four nouveau-riche urban youths looking to turn the ominous former lair of local legend Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) into a club.
Bones was to his neighborhood what Don Vito Corleone was to Little Italy — he’s sort of a ghetto-fabulous Keyser Soze. So understandably, the ghost of Jimmy Bones ain’t havin’ any of it, and he terrorizes the group in the form of a maggot-spewing dog.
Adding to a surprisingly and needlessly convoluted plot is Pam Grier (“Jackie Brown”) as a fortune teller who offers countless warnings to the aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as a requisite love story between the film’s dreary leads. By the time Jimmy Bones inevitably rises from the dead to exact revenge, the plot has devolved so deep into unintentional slapstick that Snoop’s long-awaited screen-time is wasted.
The film has a certain sense of urgency and desperation to cash in on the Snoop Dogg franchise, as though he were just as ephemeral as the other trends of the past decade. And as history has shown, movies have always been a great way to wring some chump change out of a fad that’s run its course. “Cool as Ice” didn’t help Vanilla, and “On the Line” certainly won’t impede the death of the latest wave of boy bands/teen-pop.
Snoop isn’t going anywhere, but the film unfortunately does little to back that claim. “Bones” could have been, and certainly should have been, a “Shaft” for the Jay-Z generation, but it will be just as easily forgotten as Justin What’s-his-name.