Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Friday, March 15, 2019

A YEAR OF SLASHERS: Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)

Obviously, the “Leprechaun” series continued to be popular on the video market. We wouldn’t have gotten a fifth movie if it wasn’t. Around the same time, movies targeted at the “urban market” where also popular in the direct-to-video world. Obviously, it made sense to cross over these two elements. (Okay, maybe “makes sense” is the wrong phrase.) If the Leprechaun interacting with space was hilarious, the Leprechaun in the hood would be as twice as hilarious, right? And thus, in 2000, "Leprechaun in the Hood" became a real movie.

In the 1970s, as evident by the ridiculous afro, a street hood named Mack Daddy discovered the Leprechaun’s secret lair. Removing the pendent from his neck, he brought the Lep to life. Before Mack could be killed, he slipped the pendent back on his neck, stealing the Leprechaun’s magical flute too. Thirty years later, Mack Daddy has now become a successful rap producer, mostly thanks to that magic flute. Meanwhile, three young kids are hoping to become rap superstars. A chance encounter with Mack Daddy gives them their chance… Before they blow it. That night, they return to the producer’s home with the intention to rob it. Instead, they unleash the Leprechaun, grabbing his magic flute. This works out nicely for them until the ghastly gremlin returns for his property.

I can’t believe I’m saying this. The best thing about “Leprechaun in the Hood” is its characters. The central trio goes by Postmaster P., Stray Bullet, and Butch. Despite their gangsta’ rap nicknames, they are actually nice boys. Postmaster P. talks about positivity, how he doesn’t want to enforce negative stereotypes. Butch is a technical genius with a keen understanding of chemistry, engineering all sorts of devices. Only Stray wants to pursue the tough street criminal image. A.T. Montgomery, Rashaan Nail, and Red Grant are surprisingly likable in the parts. When the three kids have to perform for a church, their awkward attempts are endearing. I’d say Montogmery even gives a good performance as Post, actually putting some thought into his character. The friendship the three share is sort of sweet, even. These are not things I’d expect from a movie called “Leprechaun in the Hood.”

Which isn’t to say the movie doesn’t deliver on the cheap and easy sight gags. Obviously it does, which is apparent from the moment Ice-T pulls a baseball bat out of his afro. Considering the Leprechaun’s preference to rhyming, putting him a hip-hop environment almost makes sense. (Well, it makes as much sense as anything with these movies do.) As expected, the Leprechaun smokes weed. He murders the offensively stereotyped Chinese store owner. He survives being shot with a gat. Most bizarrely, he even summons a trio of “fly honies,” personal ladies that serve as his minions. And, yes, he raps which is as good as you’d expect. At least the movie is committed to its dumb premise. It’s certainly better then the Leprechaun’s lackluster kills, which mostly involve blowing holes in people’s chest with his powers.

“Leprechaun in the Hood” is not as deliriously entertaining as the previous two films. Much of the humor is off-putting. A male cross-dresser is treated in an offensive, homophobic manner. The movie returns to that ground at the end, when the heroes cross-dress too. The film’s pacing really starts to falter in the last third. Following a major character’s death, the movie gets unusually serious. It ricochets between incredibly goofy and sort-of serious for the rest of the run time. Moreover, you can tell the writers didn’t really have enough story for a feature. The film begins to feel like a collection of unrelated sketches by the end. The downbeat conclusion ends the movie on a dreary note.

But then again, what do you want? This is the fifth movie in the “Leprechaun” series, for goodness sake. All things considered, it’s a lot better than it has any right to be. Warwick Davis is still having a ball in the part and there’s a little more thought put into this than expected. It’s still incredibly dumb, obviously, but it manages to be mildly entertaining. [6/10]

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