Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Music for the People (1991)
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In his latest role Mark Wahlberg attempts a ground-breaking feat in acting, but the hype is no match for the history. Here we find an actor willing to sing his heart out and sink to new career lows in this playful but telling mockumentary. The story line is the same as those that came before it - man battles himself on the mic, forgetting his heritage in the process, and making jokes so that we might laugh at him rapping in his underwear - but the part Wahlberg is playing is not all it's cracked up to be.
Wahleberg's role in this hour-long film brings to mind naive rap sensation Joaquin Phoenix's role in I'm Still Here. And here is our first clue as to the true nature of the Funky Bunch leader's deception - see if you can follow this logic.
Attempting to convince Hollywood that he's anything other than the younger brother of famed actor River Phoenix, the cocaine-addled Joaquin Phoenix traced the roots of his sibling's premature demise in I'm Still Here. Joaquin's nepotistic insertion in the portrayal of his brother in many ways correlates with Wahlberg's own coattail-riding theatrics - for it should be noted that Marky's brother is none other than New Kids On The Block singer, Donny Wahlberg.
While riding the wave of success from his critically acclaimed portrayal of Johnny Cash, Joaquin went on a nation-wide tour playing the famed country singer. Phoenix switched roles and began playing the part he knew best, that of his brethren. Take note, for this is clearly where Wahlberg took his cues, plagiarising his We Own the Night (2007) comrade.
Wahlberg is convincing in the role of leader and charismatic spokesperson for his Funky Bunch, and yet the character seems one-dimensional and unbelievable - much the same as Phoenix in playing the part of HIS own brother, the late River Phoenix - everything but overdosing, Joaquin dives deep in shallow waters.
As we all know Donny Wahlberg's career ended with New Kids On The Block. Yet here, in front of American and European audiences, is a Wahlberg - younger brother to the now-defunct Donny - on stage performing in a scantily dressed fashion. Marky Mark may have spoken seductively to female audiences and freestyle-rapped to his tour manager, but I'm sorry, Mark is no Donny - on stage or off - any more than Joaquin is River on coke or prostitutes.
Like art, the future may reflect the past, but it's not hard to recognize a copycat copycatting a copycat when you see it. And when you see one as self-absorbed and ungrateful as Joaquin and Mark, you need to call him out. Sorry, Mark, this crotch is for you and your brother. And you'd better think twice before making another rap video, please and thank you.
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