Artist: Movie ReviewTitle: In The Mix (Film)Rating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Edwardo Jackson
BIASES: 30 year old black male; frustrated screenwriter who
favors action, comedy, and glossy, big budget movies over indie
flicks, kiddie flicks, and weepy Merchant Ivory fare
Darrell (Usher) is New York's hottest DJ. Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is the
JD-bound law school daughter of mafia boss Frank (Chazz Palminteri). When Darrell's bravery in protecting the family during a mafia-style hit earns him entry into Frank's home, Dolly chooses Darrell as her around-the-clock bodyguard. Romance, natch, ensues.
Or at least that's what we're told. "In The Mix" is a tired retread of tired retreads, push-carting out every mob stereotype and every other Black one for weak stabs at situation comedy. With seizure-inciting direction (enough with the strobe lights, Underwood we get it: he works at a CLUB!), "Mix" is generically scripted, obvious, and recklessly clumsy in dealing with race relations. Featuring character types so well worn, they should sit in a living room wrapped in plastic, "Mix" practically dares you to walk out of the movie early. Aren't we tired yet of the white coonish, corny, wannabe-Black wigger mocking contemporary young Black Hip-Hop culture by his buffoonish attempts to comically mimic it? Haven't we had enough of the wisecracking-beyond-her-years child who obnoxiously Buttinskys her way into everything, yet is still, inexplicably, accepted as loving, protective, and "cute" (she ain't THAT cute)? If all that, plus groan-inducing dialogue weren't enough, "In the Mix" may boast the silliest action climax of the year (Hence my sudden urge to go home and wash my hair. Or something).
Actors like Chazz Palminteri, who is always (ill-advisedly?) up for anything, and the lovely, petite Emmanuelle Chriquiperfectly capable, decent talent when provided a real script and real directionact as mere enablers, co-signers for such laissez-faire filmmaking. Don't encourage it, discourage it! Palminteri, he of the perpetual
twinkle in his eye like he knows he's better than the material (he is), should actually try saying "no" once in awhile. Emmanuelle glows but has absolutely no chemistry with
Usher. Having to overcompensate for his limited (okay, damn near nonexistent) acting skills, Chriqui, while forced to mutter heinously obvious lines, is practically acting by herself half the time, thanks to
Usher. (Dramatic pause) Dancer. Singer. Lover. Businessman extraordinaire. Actor? I don't think so. Overly mannered, indicating through gestures instead of inhabiting a role, and processing his lines onscreen instead of, again, just INHABITING A ROLEone that
doesn't require much of him except for flashing dimples, teeth, and a body he's clearly in love with anyway. Maybe that's the problem: Usher is so in love with his own, tiny little body, there's no room in his heart to even portray romantic interest in someone else. How can Dolly compete with his love of his abs? Usher's body is downright geometric, so shapely and wavy that it must be contractually stipulated that it be shown sans shirt at regular ten minute intervals throughout. Hmm, wonder who exec produced this film
Shortly after Usher pushed out the line "I've never loved anyone until you" with all the conviction of the White House Press Secretary telling us we're winning the war in Iraq, I had to go reclaim my life, missing the very end of this movie as its ridiculous third act flailed along. As I left the theater, early, one thought moved across the news ticker-like crawl of my brain, a thought synonymous to cheaply made, sloppily executed, studio "Black" films and their only, if any, socially redeeming value:
Edwardo Jackson (ReelReviewz@aol.com) is an author and LA-based screenwriter, visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com.