Inspired by the 1955 film The Private War of Major Benson, Major Payne follows the story of a military officer named Benson Payne, who, after getting discharged from the Marines, is tasked with leading a group of misfit cadets at Madison Preparatory School. But trying to train these kids proves to be one of his most challenging jobs yet.
Aside from Wayans, the cast includes a few familiar faces, including Karyn Parsons (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Orlando Brown (That's So Raven), William Hickey (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) and Albert Hall (Malcolm X).
Most critics weren't too fond of the movie, but some have praised Wayans for his strong performance. Critic Roger Ebert wrote, "The key to this kind of comedy is to go all the way with it, and Wayans creates a comic character out of narrowness, obsession, and blind commitment. Of course the arc of the storyline is familiar; we know the pretty teacher will soften him, and that he will grow fond of the cadets, and no prizes for guessing who wins the big all-Virginia ROTC competition... Wayans is one of the most talented comic actors around, especially when he lets go and swings for the fences."
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