Black and White

Review Date:
Director: James Toback
Writer: James Toback
Producers: Michael Mailer, Daniel Bigel, Ron Rotholz
Brooke Shields
Ben Stiller
Allan Houston
A couple filming a documentary on the impact of the hip-hop lifestyle on white teenagers, run across various characters, black and white, willing to put up their own particular opinions on the controversial subject.
An interesting experiment gone terribly awry! Props to James Toback for attempting something a little different, tackling a subject which may seem taboo to some and allowing his actors to improv their lines. Major thumbs down to James Toback for splicing together an inconsistent film, featuring one part insightful documentary, one part shoddy character development all around, and one part featuring a crappy side-plot about a bad cop bribing everyone in his path for what purpose again?! What the hell was he thinking? It seems as though this movie was put together by two different people. The first thought it would be a good idea to film folks talking shite about race relations and the youth of America…hhmmm, okay fine, semi-interesting in a voyeur KIDS-type of way, I suppose. The other person decided to carve a half-baked plot into the mix, without realizing that there wasn’t a single sympathetic character in the entire film, not one reason to give a crap about any of them, and most surprisingly for this type of movie, not one character which didn’t reinforce the pathetic stereotypes that continue to exist in our present day.

Tackle that onto the fact that half of the performances were decent in this movie, see Downey Jr. play his staple “gay guy” character and Power exhibit some potent charisma, while the other half existed solely for reasons known to Toback and his apparent “let’s slap as many name people in this movie as possible”, and you’ve got yourself a decent premise turning into a major mess. Granted I did like some scenes, the soundtrack and enjoyed a couple of laughs (mostly at their expense though), but what the heck was Claudia Schiffer’s character all about, what was with Ben Stiller and his flip-flip personality, and what the hell is any of it supposed to mean anyway? Between me and you, I truly have no idea what this film was trying to say, besides the fact that hip-hop culture is apparently being embraced by all races. Whoopee…whatta surprise!

And to include a scene featuring Brooke Shields’ character breaking down upon the discovery of her husband’s “extremely obvious to anyone in the world” bi-sexuality, is simply insulting to the audience. So if you like movies featuring no real story, a handful of horrible improvisational sequences, a decent soundtrack and pretentiousness galore, by golly, slap your eight bucks down and buy yourself a genuine helping of self-indulgence. And as much as I hate punning the title of a film into my critiques…here it is…black or white, I think we can all agree that this movie sucks! 🙂

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Black and White



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