UrbanFilmCritic

IMDb member since November 2001
    Lifetime Total
    25+
    IMDb Member
    18 years

Reviews

Cloverfield
(2008)

Wow!
The Blair Witch styled first person shooting was clever for about 5 minutes then it started giving me a headache. I had to close my eyes to regain my equilibrium. I just don't have the stomach for that shot. That's why I hate watching people's home movies. However, I regret that I was not physically able to fully enjoy the experience, because the movie was really good. It was definitely an original take on a classic sci-fi tale of alien invasion. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. And the ending was not entirely predictable as it often is with this type of movie. And the graphics were spectacular.

And best of all, it is a discussion movie. I love a movie that my friends and I can discuss after we see it. It feels like I'm getting more for my money.

The Prestige
(2006)

One of the best movies EVER
What makes this movie so incredible is that while it is indeed a movie about magicians (or illusionists) it is also a complex character study about how self destructive obsessions are with a sideline love story and a sci-fi twist. A unique plot with an amazing cast--any of whom could believably garner an Oscar nomination. Christian Bale was amazing in one of his rare cockney performances. We already know from Kate and Leopold how well Hugh Jackman plays a distinguished English gent. He's absolutely priceless. Is there any point in discussing Sir Michael Caine? He brings polish to the movie.

This is the kind of flick that you can discuss for weeks after. The plot is so detailed and complete and open to interpretation. My friend and I have been discussing various nuances of this film for the past 3 weeks. It definitely stays with you.

Gridiron Gang
(2006)

Warm and touching
A career in corrections is often a thankless job. Dealing with the worst of society's offspring, its no wonder that 75% of juvenile delinquents end up as repeat offenders back in the system. A sobering statistic that inspired juvenile corrections officer Sean Porter to become proactive. His plan was to give focus and dignity to a completely forgotten demographic.

Gridiron Gang is based on the true story of Porter's first football team. He wasn't coaching trained athletes, and his players' parents weren't on the sidelines. There were no scholarships at stake or academic probations to worry about. He was coaching gangbangers and murderers in a low security juvenile facility with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If Remember the Titans and The Longest Yard had a baby—it would be Gridiron Gang. The film had the warmth and heart of Titans with the basic premise of the Longest Yard. We all love an underdog story and what's buried deeper than a group of antisocial teenagers playing football for the first time in their lives.

Of course films like this have their share of corny scenes—the Rock attempted tears (unsuccessfully) in two of them. But the film will make you cheer and might make you cry.

Standout performance by newcomer Jade Yorker. He's a face to watch…he's got something.

Crossover
(2006)

Crapover
For all who have cried for quality urban film-making free from gangsta, thuggin, and drug related themes…keep looking.

Detroit is a city rich in culture, history, ethnicity and empowerment but in recent years has developed an unfortunate reputation that upsets many natives. Those with a voice, the politicians, the rappers, even the filmmakers try desperately to reverse that negative image much to their credit. Writer and Director Preston Whitmore II, a loyal patriot indeed, attempts an urban tale about street ball, dreams fulfilled, and dreams deferred. It seemed like every few minutes there was a needless montage of city landmarks that were not part of the storyline. A gimmick that seemed patronizing at best, insulting at worst. I too love my city and I understand patriotic sympathies. However, they simply have no place on the celluloid. If a filmmaker wants to show the good of the city make a good movie! But that was just part of my problem with Crossover. It wasn't dramatic enough to be taken seriously and not funny enough to be a comedy. The funniest thing in the movie was the main character Tech (Mackie) spending half the movie studying for his GED. The plot was mediocre and the acting simply ghastly. Wayne Brady (who said he could be a leading man?) has to prove he's black to all his critics and quite unconvincingly portrays Vaughn, part businessman, part thug who has more than a legitimate interest in street ball. The cookie monster is a scarier underworld figure. Wesley Jonathan who was absolutely priceless in Rollbounce was less than thrilling-- almost boring. And Eva Pigford's play acting of the femme fatal just ruined a character that might have been interesting.

Crossover (or Crapover as I was calling it by the end) was a film that probably looked good on paper but lost its focus somewhere between the pitch and the production. I often advise urban screenwriters to beware of this potential peril. It's a death sentence to the film, but more importantly it is another unwanted blemish on the genre of film that is blemished enough.

Idlewild
(2006)

Outkast does it again
What could Outkast do next to top the success of their double cd speakerboxx/love below? The Impresarios of Rap present Idlewild—a hip hop love story set against the daily grind of running a juke joint during Prohibition in the town of Idlewild, GA. All the players were there, the piano player, the singer, and of course, the bootlegger. Whether it's a murder mystery, a gangsta tale, or a love story can be debated after you see it…just go see it.

Idlewild, a film by Bryan Barber starred Antoine Patton and Andre Benjamin. However, the music was done by Big Boi and Andre 3000. Outkast fans will get the difference. The rest will have to see to believe. Let us not forget, where there is a Big Boi and an Andre there will be a fair amount of quirky, a little bit of weird, a lot of imagination, and some stepping outside of the "speakerboxx".

The film had the musical stage appeal of Chicago with the black gangsta love of movies like Harlem Nights and Hoodlum. But unlike those Yankee tales, this story took place in the south before it became dirty or is it derty???? (where's my ebonics dictionary?) It speaks to a time and place accurately and without insult. It was clever and funny but also a little predictable. Which was ideal because the storyline is actually just scenery for all the incredible musical numbers and didn't need to be complicated. The characters had that two-dimensional feel reminiscent of the melodramas so popular in the 1930's. Idlewild rose to the challenge and very successfully captured the times, which is often a difficult task in a period piece.

Saying Outkast has an innovative approach to music is like saying that guy Picasso is alright with a paintbrush. The original score by Outkast blended the sound of the 30's, the jazz, the blues and the swing with rap and soulful rhythm and blues. It was kind of like a family reunion for home-grown syncopation. It was ingenious as well as inspired. The choreography only complimented the musical numbers giving the audience a complete juke joint experience.

The film also offered notable cameo appearances by Cicily Tyson, Ving Rhames, Bruce Bruce, Patty Labelle and the tease of Tony award winning Ben Vereen who doesn't dance. Also noteworthy is Macy Gray's performance as the falling diva Taffy.

If Rappers must make movies, they should all be so good.

Premium
(2006)

Excellent
Read my past reviews, and you know how rare it is that I sing the praises of any film made after 1985.

Premium is one of the best independent films I have ever seen. I realized after the screening at the Urbanworld Film Festival just how much garbage I've watched lately. I hope Mr. Chatmon is able to get a theatrical release so that everyone can have an opportunity to see the movie, but if it does go straight to DVD, it will be a rare gem in the secondary market.

I don't want to over-inflate the movie. It wasn't a complex story with a lot of special effects or over the top dramatizations. It was a very simple story that was divinely executed. Everyone did what they were supposed to do. The film maker had enough respect for his audience not be the director, the writer, the star, the key grip and the caterer. He selected his role, he focused on that and hired people to do the rest.

It's a character study and a date movie. And its good. I've been a champion of the urban independent film maker for a while. This movie reminded me why...UFC

Get Rich or Die Tryin'
(2005)

Rappin is the new Black American dream?
Film Synopsis: The story of Marcus Grier (Jackson), an orphaned street kid who gains rank in the drug trade but after a tragic shooting decides to leave the violence behind and become a rap artist. The film is based on Jackson's autobiography From Pieces to Weight: Once Upon A Time in Southside Queens. I had an opportunity to talk with 50 just days before the film was released. By his own words this movie is 70% accurate and 30% Hollywood.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Charles Drew, Thurgood Marshall, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, George Washington Carver…all the great ones, right? Out of all the celebrated accomplishments of African Americans in the fields of medicine, science and the arts, when were we reduced to watching biopics about drug dealers who became rappers? When did that become the African American dream? And yet twice in 2005 some producer told the story of a wannabe rapper with all the intensity of Schindler's list and The English Patient put together. Just because the music is serious, doesn't mean I'll take it seriously.

Most of us justify our love of gangsta rap and their tales from the darkside of the streets with the cliché line: "It's not real. It's all a hype." Of course some guy in a tall T and Timbs will emphatically support the rapper saying, "Naw that's not true, he had a beef wit… at the Hit Factory in 03. His manager got shot!" And then you go see a movie like Get Rich or Die Trying. A movie that is the exact embodiment of every gangsta rap song ever produced. Intro, verse, hook, verse, bridge, hook, out- remixed with a little 50-lore made this flick real predictable. Bad dialog, bad clothes and bad hair. What's worse, the actors that could have brought the pain like Terrance Howard, Mykelti Williamson and Viola Davis were not given enough screen time to make a difference in the quality of the film. And as with most mediocre screenplays the ending fell to pieces. As for Jackson's performance, he couldn't quite hold his own with the more seasoned actors in the cast. But in all fairness for a drug dealer who became a rapper who became an actor…he wasn't that bad.

This movie raises a social problem. If it is all just hype then we put it under the Scarface category of gangster fiction and go to sleep still feeling like good people. However, if the premise of the story is indeed based in truth, then we have to ask ourselves where do we draw the line on entertainment? When does it stop being fun and start being wrong? I know my social conscience was not offended when it was just a song. Maybe rappers need to keep their stories on wax…50 believes his story is worth telling if for no other reason, it's a blueprint of what not to do. He wasted years dealing that he could have been rapping. I think that part of the message is lost in the film. He makes it look simple, worthwhile and cool. His tragic shooting has more value as street credit than as a hard life lesson. Mr. Jackson is very confident that his story will either inspire or make envy. In this writer's opinion, repulsion is also a possibility. However, it takes courage to tell such a shameful story and something has to be said for that.

The Weather Man
(2005)

Nick Cage at his best
The cusp of the dreaded mid-life crisis. The realization that life sucks either because you've removed the rose colored glasses or because you've been hit by one of life's ice balls. While at the point where you still believe in happy endings and hold on to the possibility that if one good thing happens everything else will fall into place.

So the story begins...Dave Spritz is a Chicago weatherman. As the events of his life get worse he begins to put all his faith in a dream job in New York as a national weatherman. He believes this job will magically restore his failing marriage, his relationship with this kids and garner him the respect from his father (Michael Caine)he so desires.

The ability to find humor in life's tragedies is an accomplishment that director, writer and cast can all be proud of. The comedy in this movie came just often enough to hold back the tears. It was a real life character study and of course Nicholas Cage and Michael Caine were absolutely superb.

What makes the movie so wonderful is that it is based on premises we all know but often forget. 1)Money doesn't buy happiness. 2)The little things mean a lot. 3)To quote the film, "The hard thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing."

G
(2002)

Nothing can touch Fitzgerald
Like this review, G could never capture the eloquence of F. Scott Fitzgerald. What made this movie good was the skeleton provided by Fitzgerald, what made this movie bad was the adaptation. This film had its share of corn. What the first half of the century called "melodrama" we call corny. So that is due to no fault of the producer or the screenwriter. At the same time, the timelessness of the story is what will capture the attention of the audience. On some level we all love a little melodrama. Those who have read the novel will enjoy finding the urban parallels. I was even motivated to read the book again after the screening.

The enigmatic Gatsby found a counterpart in Summer G without as much mystery. Richard T. Jones is very good at playing the strong silent type. Chenoa Maxwell's Sky Hightower captured the desperate innocence of the classic's Daisy. And Blair Underwood's Chip Hightower was a Tom like no other. There was a little unnecessary comic relief and a few extra characters all building to a crescendo and an almost operatic ending.

It's difficult to adapt classic novels. This is not the first attempt for The Great Gatsby. Robert Redford and Mia Farrow attempted in 1974. I found that version very boring. So in comparison G was much better but the corn factor was a little extra. All in all much more good than bad.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
(2005)

All questions answered!
In a year that seems to be dedicated to the washed out remake, George Lucas delivers the final installment to the Star Wars prequel, Return of The Sith. "What is a Sith?", you ask. I'm still not sure. But like jedi ,wookie, and lightsaber , it will soon become an American colloquialism. Please note: if someone refers to you as a Sith...it's a bad thing.

The disappointment of the Matrix Reloaded sent me into the theater leery of the dreaded ANTICLIMAX. I'm happy to report my faith in the sci-fi trilogy has been restored. George Lucas has done it again!

What I liked most about Episode 3 was that it answered every lingering question from Star Wars to The Return of the Jedi. How did Darth Vader get the name? Why did he join the darkside? How did Leia end up a princess while Luke was raised on that desert planet? Why didn't C3PO just tell Luke who his father was? Why did Yoda live in the swamp? Was Sam Jackson's Mace Windu any relation to Billy Dee Williams' Lando Calrissian? And most importantly, Why did Leia wear her hair like that? Even the fight scenes contributed to the complete story. Obi-Wan and little Yoda show why they were qualified to train Luke. The fight scenes were absolutely awesome.

Unlike Return of the Jedi and most finales of this sort, this movie does not have a happy ending. That is a large part of what made it such an incredible film. Although you know how it has to end, you don't want it and that builds a lot of excitement.

This is a film everyone can enjoy. Fans of the epic will love this finale, obviously. However, even if you are not familiar with the story there is enough action and adventure to keep you interested.

Mindhunters
(2004)

And then there were none...
Hiding within a group of eight FBI profilers is a serial killer. In the ultimate test of their crime-solving savvy, these endangered young agents – each compelled by his or her secret past to probe the criminal mind -- must figure out who among them is a ruthless predator . . . before, one by one, they all fall prey to the killer's ingenious plan. With MINDHUNTERS, director Renny Harlin gives the serial killer thriller an edge-of-your-seat whodunit twist. Inspired by Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians," the story crescendos in suspense as a group of brand new profilers realize that a terrible evil has entered their circle – and there may be no way out alive. When a simulated FBI training exercise turns shockingly real, with one of the agents meeting an unexpected demise, the profilers realize this is more than a final exam -- it's a battle for their lives. Completely isolated, the agents have no choice but to solve the heinous crime on their own. But how can they trust one another when they each possess the skills, the motives and the means to be the murderer? No one is above suspicion, or the perils of overwhelming fear, as they use everything in their power to uncover the killer's identity and end the relentless hunt.

As a child, I discovered a fondness for mystery novels. I remember one summer in particular I wanted to be Encyclopedia Brown so bad that a friend of mine and I opened a detective agency. As I got older, I traded in my Nancy Drew for Agatha Christie and of course Sherlock Holmes. And to this day, I still enjoy the James Patterson, Michael Crichton and P.D. James who dunnits.

Maybe all the training has made me into a criminal mastermind. Maybe re-reading And Then There Were None and the Red Headed League so honed my detective skills that I have become un-stump-able. Or maybe, the intricate plot to Mindhunters was so transparent and absurd, Leroy Brown himself could have figured it out. I solved the case by the second murder and spent about an hour contemplating whether or not I should apply at Scotland Yard. Then the houselights came up and the looks on the faces of my colleagues let me know that I was suffering from dillusions of grandeur.

It pains me to see LL and Val in such a bad movie. I love them so...

House of Wax
(2005)

I love old movies...
House of Wax (2005) is the very reason why! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I know that kids today don't have the patience to watch the plot of a completely censored film unfold, but something has to be said for a movie that with limited violence, special effects and sex is legitimately good. And better than it's 21st century counterpart…

The original film was what I would classify as a "creature feature" film. Probably because I watched it on channel 50 (back in the day) on a show called Creature Features. (Who else remembers that?) The new version is more of a "teen slasher" film. Teen slasher films have very compact plot lines. Almost cookie cutter. You can predict who will die in what order by the deeds they do. Clearly there is a madman in each movie turning people into wax figures. However, Vincent Price's sadistic Dr. Jerrod trumps the crazy Victor/Vincent twins any day. Although it was cute to name one of the twins Vincent.

The original plot line was far more sympathetic as well. Even though he was insane, the woman he sought to enwax (what's the right word?) he was in love with. He wanted to immortalize her beauty. The new version didn't have that much heart. It pretty much limited itself to blood, gore and breasts.

But! For the teen buck it had a lot to offer. A cast of aloof beautiful people led by the always gorgeous Chad Michael Murray and of course media magnet Paris Hilton.

I'll take the creature feature...

Crash
(2004)

Intense and Good
Synopsis: A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two cops who are also lovers. An African-American television director and his wife. Two carjackers. A Mexican locksmith. A rookie cop. A middle aged Korean couple. They all live in Los Angeles. And during the next 36 hours, they will all collide.

This movie was a very emotional 2 hour ride. A look at the affects of racial tensions in our perfect land of opportunity, Crash is confrontational, though not radical. It teases us with what might happen and what could happen but then cushions the blow with light humor. Sadly, the issues raised in the film, specifically racial intolerance are perpetuated by the things we laugh at....and the laughter kept the film moving.

It was very dramatic. Unpredictably dramatic. I think every actor in the film read the script and said, "This is my Academy Award!" They all brought the drama! Seasoned actress Sandra Bullock played completely against type which was refreshing. Rapper Chris Bridges (aka Ludicrous) did an excellent job for only his second film. And the UFC is not a fan of acting rappers. I love Don Cheadle and his portrayal of the jilted good son was exceptionally moving. Actually, the whole movie was moving. Now where it moves you, I can't say. Some may reflect quietly, others may move to the exit . If you don't prefer intense dramas...go see something else.

We all look at people we don't know or don't understand and draw conclusions, some bad some good. This movie did a very good job of demonstrating how destructive that aspect of human nature can be. And yet, how inevitable it is. One of the things that I think makes a good movie is how much you think about it after and how much you talk about it. Crash will give thinking people plenty to discuss.

xXx: State of the Union
(2005)

Straight off the Cob!
You gotta love "Guy Movies". They require so little. Action, action, action. That's all you need. Good plot, convincing acting. Etc…not necessary.

And this movie had plenty of action, great stunts, cool colors and graphics. Land, sea and air this movie had it all. Explosions, tank to tank combat, Navy SEALS, car jackers and hot women. Planes, trains and automobiles. Who could ask for anything more???? ME.

In exchange for all the exciting feats that kept us wide eyed for the entire ride, there was the corniness of the dialog and the absolute ridiculousness of the storyline…a high price to pay. For all the priceless lines Samuel L. Jackson delivered in Pulp Fiction he gives an equal number of corn straight off the cob in XXX2.

BUT! I love Ice Cube, NWA for life!!!!!!! He was giving the camera all those throwback "mean mugs" he was so famous for back in the day. I love him like that. The old Cube, not the Hollywood Cube. While this is not my favorite Ice Cube movie, I still respect his journey and wish him even greater success. The crossover to action films is one of the best things that could happen to an actor. And in Hollywood, it's also a path to the Governor's mansion. You go Cube!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
(2005)

If you get it...
The movie first reminded me of the old British comedies that used to air on the Canadian station when I was young. It had that dry superiority mixed with lunacy that the Brits are so good for. Kind of like Monty Python. The concept was so out of this world (no pun intended) that I didn't get it…until I got it. The lights came on a little late.

It's a very clever film based on a very clever book. Thick with metaphor the story is more about the reality of life than it may seem from the title. The people we deal with everyday (and drive us crazy) take on the form of aliens who are just as annoying.

Once you get it (if you get it) you'll laugh. Everyone will not dig this movie. And if you suspect that you won't, you're probably right. At the very least it will give you plenty to talk about on the ride home.

Mos Def was great, but I love Mos Def. He picks unexpected roles and plays them very well. He's just a great actor. Usually a scene stealer, (Brown Sugar, Showtime) this time he just finds his own way in this bizarre cast and holds his own. Hilarious performance by Sam Rockwell who played in Confessions of A Dangerous Mind. If you haven't seen that, you should.

State Property 2
(2005)

Damon Dash hung up the phone...
A young film student whose dreamed of making a movie his entire life sits in his writing chair and drops his head in disgust. A rejection letter falls to the floor. The seventh one this year and it's only April. He wheels over to the computer, logs into a chat room to discuss what's wrong with Hollywood. The rent is due.

A small waiting room packed with 20 or so. He stands in the corner and smiles. The others in the room don't faze him. He got a callback. All the sacrifices are finally paying off. This is his audition. He's ready. The intense method training, the workout, the teeth whitening...it's his day. It's only 3 lines, but it's the happiest day of his life.

A rap mogul sits by the pool. Bored with platinum records and clothing lines, he smokes a blunt and ponders his next project. "I know!" he exclaims, "We'll make a movie! All of us...well except Jigga. But all the rest of us!" A nameless groupie who normally doesn't speak interjects, "But Dame! Yaw can't act and outside of Scarface don't know much about good film-making." She stumbles on the last word realizing that it isn't her eloquence with words that keeps her around. "But if anybody can do it, you can!" She quickly recovers. He rebukes her insolence with a stare and continues," Once I get all the fellas together, N.O.R.E., Beans, Cam, Juelz, The Gunz, and my man Kanye it's ready! Lace everybody in RocaWear and State Property gear, (because the importance of saturated product placement is so much more important than a good story and can not be overstated) and just let them be themselves...well their rap images anyway! And one day, my grandkids' friends will sit and discuss with me the importance of my movie and how it impacted their lives, the same way Roots did for my Momma." The entourage sits quietly, reluctant to agree but eager to be on camera. Finally, they begin to stroke the ego of the man that picked up the tab for the last few years...and a piece of crap is made. It's an American Dream.

Fans of The Roc will support the movie and may even enjoy it. However, fans of movies and just plain logic may vomit. I'm hating again, aren't I? Too extreme? I'm sorry. I'll try again. The storyline was not that bad. A little comedy mixed with a little thuggin' almost made it decent. The complication came with the editing and the ridiculous amount of extra characters. I can think of epic battle scenes that didn't have as many people in it. And every time a new character was introduced there was a stop, flashback scene and voice-over before returning to the story. It happened too many times. If you don't already know who all the rappers are, you might find yourself confused as the story progresses.

And to add insult to the injuries of my feminist sympathies...The three main characters, Dame (Damon Dash), Beans (Beanie Sigel) and El Pollo Loco ( N.O.R.E.) are all three grossly overweight. But the women in the movie did not have a combined ounce of body fat between all of them. What are we saying here? The women have to be flawless, but the men get to look like big fat pigs? I've digressed. That's another discussion for another web page...

Sahara
(2005)

Good Adventure! Sexy Guy!
In the fashion of Raider's of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone, Sahara follows the adventures of Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) a Master Explorer who is in search of Jefferson Davis's gold coins he believes are in Africa. The story is complicated by corrupt African tribal leaders, greedy European businessmen, and a mysterious disease that threatens to kill everyone in its path.

Along for the ride are Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz, William H. Macy, Delroy Lindo and Glynn Turman who we haven't seen on the acting front in quite a while.

Chemistry! Chemistry! Chemistry! I can't stand it when the guy and the girl don't look right together! Cruz's bird like appearance paid no compliments to McConaughey's rugged good looks and exquisite physique (whew!). However, Zahn and McConaughey's chemistry was great! They were adventurous and funny.

What I liked best about the movie was the strong African-American/African presence in the supporting roles. Obviously, a movie set in Africa would have a large African cast. Ha! But a lot of the good roles in this movie were played by actors of color. See for yourself, I think you'll be pleased.

Sahara and the Dirk Pitt character were based on a series of novels written by Clive Cussell and is primed for a sequel. Matthew McConaughey hopes audiences will agree. I'm all for it, it's time for a new Raiders. Just get him a better girl...(hateration)

Guess Who
(2005)

Bernie Saves the Day
A remake of the controversial classic Guess Who's Coming To Dinner starring Sidney Poitier and Spencer Tracy this version flips the pragmatic white family hosting their daughter's black fiancé with a cynical black family head (Bernie Mac) meeting his daughter's white fiancé (Ashton Kutcher) for the first time. The original was full of social commentary, this remake is just comedy.

The film pairs the completely self-contained comedy of Bernie Mac with the ever-popular physical comedy of Ashton Kutcher. Although I'm not a huge fan of remakes, I fell in love with this movie's gentle yet comedic approach to a touchy subject.

Bernie Mac just has a way with words. He knows how to say a line and make it hilarious. You or I could say the same thing and no one would laugh. That's a gift few possess. And at the other end of the comedy spectrum, Ashton Kutcher's (aka Demi's Roni) perfect All-American image works well with his squeaky voice and his comedic timing. Bernie Mac was Bernie Mac, but Ashton Kutcher was not Kelso. And that was good.

An alternate title for this film could easily have been Meet the Blacks. The storyline was closer to Meet the Parents than Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Both stories involve a girl taking her unsuspecting boyfriend home to meet her over protective parents. The boyfriend, who is normally a great guy, gets caught in a web of lies and plays a complete idiot for the entire weekend.

Ashton and Bernie were very funny and they saved the movie...

Sin City
(2005)

Guy Flick But Girls Will Go Too.
Sin City is a collection of interweaving stories all based in the corrupt, crime infested hell-hole that is Basin City. The three main stories revolve around Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is seeking the murderer of a beautiful woman; Dwight (Clive Owen) an ex-photographer who accidentally kills a cop, and Hartigan (Bruce Willis) a retiring policeman who is convicted of a crime he didn't commit. All the stories are based on the graphic novels "Sin City", "The Big Fat Kill" and "That Yellow Bastard", written and illustrated by Frank Miller.

It's difficult to be more precise about the storyline without divulging the secrets to the plot that you have to pay money to learn. The story is multidimensional which is incredible for a concept that began in only two dimensions. It captures much of the graphic novel's (which is just a really long comic book) look and feel. The characters all seem to be drawn and the colors are basically black and white as if sketched with a pencil. The movie has a strong 1940's film-noir presence. Quentin Tarantino was a guest director. As you watch the movie you can almost guess which scenes he shot as they have his signature. It is similar in the bazaar to Pulp Fiction. Fans and Foes may have a similar response.

The sex was much more understated than I expected but they more than made up for it with the wanton violence. Too much blood and gore. But like Pulp Fiction, all the violence was plot driven. Whether you like the movie when the credits are rolling and the house lights come up, I can assure you it will both grab and hold your attention from beginning to end. I don't want to be sexist and call this a guy's movie. But it's a fair statement.

Beauty Shop
(2005)

Good Flick
I really enjoyed this movie! And these words come from a complete pessimist of black films. I've never truly been fond of sequels but on this rare occasion Beauty Shop is arguably better than Barbershop 2.

The movies have several comparisons such as the ensemble effort and the moral values. Queen trades in Cedric the Entertainer, who played the older, wise yet hilarious barber for a female counterpart in Alfre Woodard. The white barber who couldn't catch a break is replaced by the white hairstylist with the same dilemma. Both films involve the financial hardships of trying to run a business while not being ran out of business. Unlike the original Barbershop films, Beauty Shop lacks the intensity but more than makes up for it with comedy.

And…the movie was funny! How could it fail? The support cast included comedians (or scene stealers) Sherri Shephard, Sheryl Underwood, Adele Givens, Ms. Laura and L'il JJ. But no one could compare with Kevin Bacon's performance as the Scandinavian stylist extraordinaire Jorge. At 50, he still looks like a man in his 30's. And while we're talking about the supporting cast, I can't forget to tell you about Keshia "L'il Rudy" Knight Pulliam. She's grown into a beautiful young woman and she's still a decent little actress. I just hope she doesn't go the dismal way of child stars and end up in the center on Hollywood Squares.

Who knew that when we saw Queen Latifah pushing those chess pieces off that large board in the Ladies First video that one day she would stand out as a gifted actress, singer and comedian. I guess she showed us

Be Cool
(2005)

The book was better...lol
In the sequel to 1995's 'Get Shorty,' John Travolta is all swagger and one-liners, reprising his role as shylock/movie producer Chili Palmer. This time around, Chili abandons the fickle film industry for the ever-so-stable world of music, in an effort to discover the next big pop sensation and thus save the beautiful Edie's (Uma Thurman) ailing indie record label. When Chili takes a promising young singer (Christina Milian) under his wing, however, he finds himself in hot water with a wannabe gangsta/mogul (Vince Vaughn), a gay bodyguard (The Rock), and a slew of Russian mobsters. With a bounty on his head and time running out, Chili realizes there's only one way to come out on top: 'Be Cool.'

This was a comedy. And with comedy you allow for the nonsense. The nonsense makes us laugh. However, the comedy in this movie was clichéd. There was a white guy acting black, a gay aspiring actor, shady record producers and homicidal rappers. Of course John Travolta danced with Uma Thurman. Count the movies John Travolta doesn't dance in. And to boot, Cedric the Entertainer was not funny. It hurts me. The first introduction audiences had to Chili Palmer was unique. But in the sequel, we already knew Chili's cool as ice, no nonsense approach to project management. The only thing we had to look forward to was the immense supporting cast, most of whom were incredibly disappointing. I'm not going to say it was totally unfunny. I laughed. But also, I cried. I cried. It's strictly a numbers game. Put 75 people in the cast and someone is bound to make you laugh. As for the completely insulting product placements, note to Hollywood producers, AUDIENCE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW.

I feel bad now. Then again I don't. I've often said that sequels are never as good as the first. The Godfather II's are the exception, not the rule.

The Pacifier
(2005)

It's not Mary Poppins, but it's still Disney
Diesel stars as Navy SEAL Shane Wolfe who, as an elite member of the world's fiercest and most highly trained force thought he was prepared to take on any duty no matter how perilous or impossible . . . until he tried baby-sitting. Assigned to protect the five out-of-control children of an assassinated scientist working on vital government secrets, Shane is suddenly faced with juggling two outrageously incompatible jobs: fighting the bad guys while keeping house. Replacing his usual arsenal of wetsuits and weapons with diapers and juice boxes, Shane not only must battle a deceptive enemy but wrangle teen rebel Zoe, sullen 14 year-old Seth , 8 year-old Ninja-wanna-be Lulu, as well as 3 year-old Peter and baby Tyler - not to mention their off-beat Nanny. But he has no idea what tough really is until he pits his courage against diapering, den-mothering and driver's education.

In a world that exposes our children to mob hits, wanton sex and drug use it is good to know that Disney is completely dedicated to making family films. The Disney formula is simple, surround the star with a group of lovable, misunderstood, smart aleck kids including but not limited to the mildly rebellious, the wisecracking and the cutest...you get the point. The kids made the movie. Also, Carol Kane and Brad Garret were huge scene-stealers. Which Vin Diesel needed, because he was totally boring. Maybe our universal action star isn't ready for comedy yet. Schwarznegger had a few more blockbusters under his belt before he attempted it...Overall, pretty good.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman
(2005)

Give him a break, it was his first feature film...
The Plot: The story focuses on Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise), who has seemingly had the perfect life with husband Charles McCarter (Steve Harris). Over the years, Helen has been a faithful and loving wife, while Charles built a successful and lucrative career as a prominent Atlanta attorney. However, on the eve of their 18th wedding anniversary, Helen¹s paradise begins to crumble as Charles announces that he wants a divorce. He abruptly and literally tosses Helen out of the mansion to make room for the other woman. With all of her possessions packed in a moving van, Helen starts on her journey to put the pieces of her life back together. She also finds that the tragic events of her life soon become comic, especially with the guidance and help of her pot-smoking, gun-toting, and much beloved, grandmother figure Madea (Tyler Perry).

It was a good formula. Just let everyone do what they do. Kimberly Elise was the perfect victim. The perfect champion of the "Mad Black Woman". Steve Harris was mean. But I think he proved on The Practice how effectively he could be an angry black man. Shemar Moore is soooooooooo fine. Even with braids (and wack played out bandannas), he still was fine. I think that's all we really require. Cicely Tyson was the strong faithful black woman that she always is. And Tyler Perry as many who have seen his plays can attest is the funniest man in drag since Flip Wilson. The guy sitting next to me described him as a white Mrs. Doubtfire. I don't know if I agree with that. Madea might have been funnier than Euphegenia Doubtfire.

I was never really sure if I was watching a drama or a comedy. As soon as the plot became intense, in would come Perry with some ridiculous over the top comedy bit. I suppose it was a drama with comedic overtones. It was a simple story, not difficult to follow. Mildly predictable and overdone.

There is a new genre of film...gospel. And I think in this genre we have to allow for a little...corn. And the corn was plentiful. Just as thrillers have their audience, and gangster flicks have their audience, gospel audiences will love this movie. The rest of us however, may have a little trouble digesting corn. I don't want to say bad things about a black movie with a good intention. I'll reserve my comments for other bad black movies.

So if you're looking for a recommendation, all I can say is if you like gospel and/or the beautiful Shemar Moore, you will like this movie.

Ong-bak
(2003)

Spectacular Choreography
I believe in not expecting more from a movie than it is capable of. For instance, the best part of a musical is supposed to be the music. If the plot is good that's just an added bonus. Right? I don't watch a movie like "Chicago" and expect "The English Patient". With that in mind, I watched Ong Bak knowing full well that it was a martial arts film. That means bad plot, bad acting, and good fight scenes is a recipe for success.

The fighting scenes in Ong Bak were spectacular! And that's all that matters! The best part about watching this movie was being part of a raving audience reaction to every kick and punch.

So it was good. Go see it with your boyfriend!!!

Hitch
(2005)

Will, Will, Will
Plot Overview: Will Smith plays Alex Hitchens, a self-appointed "Love Doctor" who helps less than desirable men even the playing field in order to date their ideal woman. His latest client is chubby yet lovable Albert played by Kevin James. While Hitch helps Albert woo the woman of his dreams, he finds himself smitten by gossip columnist Sara played by Eva Mendes.

It is not unusual for Will Smith to make an incredible film. It is not atypical for him to make you laugh and feel. To acknowledge the sparkle in his eyes when he smiles while of course mentioning the multi-dimensions to his sex appeal would be as redundant as an observation on the color of the sky. And yet I feel compelled to do all of the above. As an actor, Will Smith has achieved a Denzellian colorless quality. In other words, like Denzel, he can play roles with no regard of race. This film was a testament to that. I did not see a black man love-struck over Eva Mendes I simply saw a man. That's talent.

Chemistry is important. I didn't think so in high school when I was barely passing Mr. Ishakis' class. However, when I watch a movie…well, I get it now. I was not impressed with the chemistry between Mendes and Smith. I found her as boring as I found him interesting. I understood the dynamic between the two characters, the man-hating feminist being the only woman to properly challenge the Love Doctor. Still, I wasn't completely convinced that he should end up with her at the end. And is not that very conviction vital to any romantic film? (See when Harry met Sally, Love and Basketball, etc…) Nevertheless, this movie was much more good than bad.

Chemistry is important. And I loved the chemistry between Kevin James and Will Smith. James in my opinion has been an underrated and overlooked comedian for many years. This may perhaps prove to be a breakout film for him and garner him some overdue attention.

Like most romantic comedies this movie had its share of tripe. It seems one of the characters always has to leave town and there is usually a predictable last minute chase. Despite that, it was refreshing to see characters work so hard to make love happen. This movie brought romance and the art of "the woo" back to the black man. Perhaps it can serve as a jolt to the many amnesiacs brainwashed by misogynist rap lyrics. I get to put a lot of my own two cents into these editorials… That's why I'm so right for this job.

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