Romantic comedies where the male lead is outkicking the coverage are a staple in Hollywood cinema and Seth Rogen’s latest rom-com title could be seen as a cheeky reference to that. Long Shot follows a journalist who reconnects with his former babysitter, who is now the United States Secretary of State. The film stars Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis, Alexander Skarsgård, and Ravi Patel. Spoilers after the trailer.
From where the film starts to where it ends is a long shot within itself. Long Shot opens up with a Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), a journalist who is infiltrating a white supremacist camp to expose them for an upcoming story. Unfortunately for Flarsky, he’s outed while getting a Swastika tattoo and the white supremacists are about to attack him, luckily he escapes by jumping out of a window. Meanwhile, the former hit-show television actor who played the president on TV turned elected official, President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk), has decided to forgo running for re-election, instead he wants to become a movie star. He even made a proclamation that only two actors, Woody Harrelson and George Clooney, have successfully made the transition from television to film. With the news that President Chambers is not running for re-election, United States Secretary of State Charlotte Fields (Charlize Theron) has the opportunity to become the first female president in the history of the United States.
The paper that Flarsky writes for has been bought out by right-wing media mogul Parker Wembley (Adam Sirkis), who I barely recognized, which causes Flarsky to quit his job because his morals would not allow him to work for someone like Wembley. An unemployed Flarsky goes to a Boys II Men performance with his best friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and this is where he begins his reconnection with Charlotte Fields. In this raunchy comedy, it turns out that Charlotte was Flarsky’s babysitter and he got an erection in front of her and it was the most embarrassing moment of his life.
While gathering data for the upcoming election, public opinion polls show that the public doesn’t think Charlotte Fields has shown that she has a sense of humor, which is why she hires Flarsky as a speechwriter because his writings have personality and color to them. The film does a great job at setting up the dichotomy between the ever so serious Fields and the pessimistically comedic Flarsky. Fields’ campaign team does not want Flarsky on the team because he’s a slob and his public image will eviscerate her election chances.
The on-screen comedic chemistry between Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron is perfect. Rogen’s brand of humor is the ying to Theron’s yang. Theron’s character is someone who is committed to her job with a demanding schedule and when you add Rogen’s brash yet self-absorbed character, it allows the pair to have funny moments. Fields and Flarsky have a molly infused night out in Paris, unbeknownst to them, there is a hostage situation which requires the Press Secretary to negotiate. Fields, a first time molly user, is thrown into a highly stressful situation as she has to negotiate the life of a hostage, but the film doesn’t make it feel melodramatic and takes a humorous approach.
The main characters aren’t the only well-written characters in this film, the side characters also shine too. O’Shea Jackson Jr. is a scene stealer in this one. Sure, his character is a “black best friend” trope, but he does a terrific job with what he is given. The bits with Lance and Flarsky naturally feel like two best friends hanging out. They never come off as forced or trying to be funny for the sake of comedy. There’s a bit where Lance reveals that he’s a Christian black Republican, and Flarsky assumed that Lance only wore a cross because it was a “cultural thing.” Because of this, Lance calls out Flarsky for being racist which the liberal Flarsky condemns himself for being an accidental racist.
On the other side of things, Charlotte Fields’ campaign staff is just as amusing. Maggie Millikin (June Diane Raphael) is one of Fields’ key staffers and she has it out for Flarsky. Throughout the film, she does her best to convince Charlotte that bringing Flarsky on board was a terrible decision. Whenever Millikin and Flarsky interact, tension and animosity play up for comedic effect, but their passive-aggressive dislike is real. June Diane Raphael’s casting was perfect for this type of role as she emits a condescending vibe without it ever feeling forced.
When it comes to the romantic portion of this romantic comedy, this is where the film seems to struggle. As great as the comedic chemistry between Rogen and Theron is, their romantic chemistry leaves much to be desired. Long Shot does its best to convince us that Fields and Flarsky are in a romantic relationship, but the only time it seems like they’re in love is because the script says so. The whole cat and mouse game feels forced and a jarring contrast to their comedic pairing. As a comedy, Theron and Rogen bounce off each other effortlessly, but every time the script reminds us that this is a romance, it’s hard not to roll your eyes because it’s so absurd.
Again, the film’s setup is that Fields was Flarsky’s babysitter nearly 20 years ago, he had a crush on her and now they rekindled and fell in love. Unfortunately, throughout the whole film the romance never feels like they feel in love, instead it’s just a late 30s year-old man that has a juvenile-like crush on an early 40s year-old woman. Everything that Flarsky loves about Fields happened over two decades ago, which is what he brings up throughout the film as if Fields hasn’t changed her ideas or motives in that timeframe.
Like many of Seth Rogen’s comedic films, Long Shot is raunchy and vulgar yet funny and has charming moments. The casting helps elevate it through its, cringeworthy at times, romantic plotline. The main characters and many of the side characters have plenty of moments where they shine as actual people. There are moments that parody real life events and news networks. If you’re going to see this as a date movie there is an action scene for the fellas, so it’s not a long shot to say that this move had something for everybody. It is a shame that this film is going under the radar since it premiered a week after what may be the highest grossing film of all-time, but charge it to the game.
This past weekend one of my friends (shoutout to Esméralda) asked me if I had ever seen You on Netflix. I had not…but after learning of the premise of the show I was intrigued to give it a viewing to see what the hype was about. Usually, a well-directed and well-acted thriller is worth the watch. Based on Caroline Kepnes’s novel of the same name, You is a psychological-thriller (dark comedy?) that follows bookstore manager (read: creeper) Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) after he falls in love with Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) and becomes obsessed with her.
The first season of the show originally aired on Lifetime during the fall of 2018, but Netflix picked it up for season 2, and made season one available for streaming one day after Christmas. Ever since America’s No. 1 streaming service made the show available, it has taken on a second life on social media. The show’s structure is what makes Netflix the perfect home because it’s written in a way that makes binge-watching the most effective way to watch it. It is easy to digest and the first season is only 10 episodes long, and each episode is around 45 minutes long, which only took about 2 days to binge. Spoilers after the trailer.
A Solid Start
The pilot uses an interesting color palette to set the tone for the show. The opening scene is set in Mooney’s bookstore in New York, and it’s filled with a lot of different shades of brown, and both of the two main characters are wearing brown. Bookstore manager Joe Goldberg is doing his best Dexter Morgan impression and starts narrating about a woman who has walked into the store and he’s analyzing everything about her. He sparks up a conversation with her, finds out her name is Guinevere Beck, and then he proceeds to be obsessed with her. After their initial conversation any sense of realism that You had walked out the door with Beck as soon as she left the bookstore.
Creeper Joe goes home, does his Googles on Beck, narrates all the details that he discovers about her, and uses an image from one of her profiles to find out where she lives. Stalker Joe goes to her home, which is on a main street, and spies on her through her curtainless and blinds-less windows. The show is self-aware enough to mention that not having blinds or curtains is a major privacy concern, but I guess we can chalk that up to being a Two Americas thing. As he continues monologuing about being a white knight, Stalker Joe stalks Beck all day and all night, watches her and her boyfriend Benji hook up, and continues to perv on her until the coast is clear for him to enter her home. While he’s snooping through her home she returns earlier than expected, and there’s a moment where he hides in the shower as the show tries to build up the suspense of him getting caught.
Beck is an aspiring writer and she’s performing her poetry later that night. Joe stalks her while she’s at the bar. She performs and nobody likes her poetry. The blonde 20s something leaves the bar drunk, and the goofiest moment of the first episode happens when Drunk Beck falls on the train tracks like a damsel in distress and Joe saves her. This assured me that this show is also supposed to be a dark comedy. Can’t make this up folks. They take a taxi back to Beck’s place and Joe manages to take her phone from her, so he can spy on all aspects of her life with ease, and once they arrive they are greeted by Beck’s boyfriend Benji Ashby (Lou Taylor Pucci) to Joe’s chagrin.
At Mooney’s bookstore there’s a basement that contains this huge glass sound proof box that Mr. Mooney (Mark Blum) used when he wanted to have quiet time while reading. There’s a couple of flashbacks throughout the series that shows Mr. Mooney acting as a father figure to Joe and he would lock Joe in the box to discipline him. Creeper Joe lures Benji to the basement because he views him as an obstacle in his pursuit of Beck. Benji tells Joe that Joe isn’t a killer and Beck isn’t worth it, but Obsessive Joe is too obsessed to listen and ends up killing Benji.
The initial comparison of Joe Goldberg to Dexter Morgan from Dexter isn’t fair to the complexity of a character like Dexter. Joe is not nearly as complex or cerebral. He’s messy, and for any rational person watching this show it’s nearly impossible to root for him, even if none of the other characters are likeable. You tries it’s hardest to give Joe some sense of normalcy. He has a little kid as a neighbor named Paco (Luca Padovan) that likes to read books but his step-father Ron (Daniel Cosgrove) does not like it when Paco talks to Joe. Ron is the Doakes of this show and he thinks that Joe is a weirdo (which he isn’t wrong). Ron works as a parole-officer and when he gets home he beats Paco’s mother Claudia (Victoria Cartagena) and Paco. Their apartment building has thin walls and Joe can hear the whoopings. The pilot episode does a solid job of setting up events for the rest of the series.
The Rest and the Mess
The pilot episode wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was interesting enough for me to check out the rest of the show. There are at least two episodes that could’ve been fused into one to make the show move more fluidly. A few episodes have noticeable editing gaffes. A character will be talking to another character, and as the camera switches back and forth for reactions the character’s positions are completely misplaced. Granted, this is episodic television, so it comes with the territory.
At times logic escapes You. When Joe kills Benji he stores his body in the trunk of his car. The body has been decomposing in Joe’s little glass box of death for a couple of days and there’s fluid slowly oozing out of it. Yet when Beck’s friend Peach (Shay Mitchell) is sick and needs to go to the hospital, Joe lets her and Beck ride in the backseat of the whip and Peach can smell odors coming from the body. Beck never mentions it and tries to act as if she does not smell anything. The counterpoint is there are moments throughout You that the show does a phenomenal job at escalating the stakes and raising the “Ohhhh 💩 He’s About to Get Caught” Factor. One scene in particular is when Stalker Joe follows his now girlfriend Beck and Peach take a staycation to Peach’s family estate that is an hour away from New York. Stalker Joe stalks but he’s already got hands laid upon him by Ron so he is suffering from a concussion. He keeps seeing and talking to what appears to be a ghost of his ex-girlfriend Candace Stone (Ambyr Childers). He hits a deer while driving at night and gets pulled over as soon as he wakes up the next morning. Good thing he’s a sociopath with a bit of privilege so he’s able to talk Officer Nico (Michael Maize) out of giving him a ticket. I’m saying, Joe looks suspicious as hell that I can’t even chalk him getting away to it just being a TV show because some cops just can’t see obvious signs.
Once Joe arrives at the estate his worries that Peach wants to be more than friends with his girlfriend Beck is confirmed. The fact that everyone on this show has money, yet won’t invest in a security system nor lock their doors is plot device too convenient. Concussed Creeper Joe is in the estate the whole weekend without anyone noticing. He manages to pee in a jar and leaves it sitting on a dresser. Peach and Beck end up arguing which results to Peach staying at the estate solo because Beck is tired of her shit. Once Peach catches Joe at the estate she thinks Joe is her stalker. The two get into a scuffle and Peach turns into cobbler when Joe shoots and kills her.
Shay Mitchell’s performance as Peach is the strongest female performance on the show. Her character is hateable yet she’s one of the few characters that seems like an actual human being, a rich stuck-up snobby one but an actual person nonetheless. Of the five people we see Joe kill, she’s the only one that puts up a fight on-screen. Peach has her issues when it comes to her feelings for Beck, but like Ron she realizes that there’s something wrong with Joe and his Mr. Perfect facade. She’s far from an angel because she ruins her friends lives, she’s manipulative and just as dangerous without physicality unlike other characters on the show. I’ve never watched Pretty Little Liars, which is what Shay Mitchell is known for, but from what I’ve heard her character on that show is pretty much the same character on You. With that said she was a perfect choice for the role of Peach.
Guinevere Beck & Joe Goldberg: A Tragedy
Beck discovers Joe’s “trophies” | Netflix
Gotcha, Beck!| Netflix
“You… you are him. You are the bad thing that you should’ve killed… You are not special, you are broken. I could never love YOU.” – Guinevere Beck
During the last two episodes of You, Beck finds all of Joe’s trophies (photo 1), so he does what any obsessive controlling stalker would do, and locks her up against her will (photo 2). She tries to escape so he kills her. Before we get to that point, the show does not present Beck as an angel. She and Joe breakup because there’s no trust in their relationship unbeknownst to her that her boyfriend is a stalker. There’s an episode where she gets to narrate for half the episode and the show would’ve been better off if she narrated the full episode or not at all. Joe suspects that Beck’s cheating on him with her therapist, Dr. Nicky (John Stamos), which we later found out she did indeed. Three months later Joe moves on and is happy with his new girlfriend, Karen Minty (Natalie Paul), but homeBecker homewrecker Beck manages to cause Joe and Karen to breakup.
For most of the series Elizabeth Lail’s acting is serviceable. She has her moments where she is interesting, but a lot of the times her acting seems flat. Compared to other actresses on You like Natalie Paul and Shay Mitchell, Lail doesn’t seem as seasoned. Her best work in the series comes during the last episode when she monologues to Joe after locking him in the glassbox. The way that Lail says, “You… you are him. You are the bad thing that you should’ve killed… You are not special, you are broken. I could never love YOU,” with conviction and disgust, was by far her best acting during the series.
The character of Beck’s life is a complete mess at the beginning of the show. She went from her poetry being booed, to not having any prose for herMASTERS IN FINE ARTS, to writing about the death of her father, who isn’t really dead to peaking as an author once Joe murders Peach because she is able to write her best work about Peach’s death. What makes Beck a complex part of You isn’t necessarily her. She’s gassed up from the start because Joe is narrating about how beautiful she is and all these good qualities about her that the audience doesn’t see. She is extremely naive and shallow when it comes to all the obvious red flags. She lies to him, she cheats on him, she doesn’t even take her masters program seriously. You spotlights all of these flaws to amplify the obsessiveness that Joe has for her. He even tells her there’s not line that he will not cross for her. Yet there are people who view Joe as some sort of hero and think that Beck does not deserve that kind of attention from Joe. Check out the tweet below:
Actor @PennBadgley of the hit show You is taking great pains to remind fans that his character is not supposed to be someone you root for, or would like to meet. https://t.co/5fNx3fXJMl
People that actually like Joe Goldberg or do not think he’s the villain of You are opps. These are the type of problematic people you’ve got to look out for. Beck’s monologue during the last episode does a spectacular job at pointing out that her wrongs are nowhere near his. He spends the whole show stalking her, manipulating her, calls out Peach for stalking Becks while he is stalking Beck, and he murders two people in her life so he can be with her. None of Beck’s mishaps come close to those of Joe. The man is a psychopath and killing Ron for Paco still doesn’t justify his behavior. During Season One of You there isn’t any kind of gray area that can convince you that Joe Goldberg is some sort of anti-hero like Dexter Morgan, The Punisher or Walter White. His behavior from the show’s pilot is grimey, and by the end of the season it just gets worse.
From an actor standpoint Penn Badgley’s performance as Joe Goldberg is compelling. I did not watch Gossip Girl so I am not familiar with his work but he does a marvelous job on You. He has the crazy-stalker look that you see on the news on an article starting with the headline of “Florida Man…” Salute to him for reminding people that his character is not to be liked.
Usually, when it comes to content that is originally presented on Netflix it’s only good for memes or it’s immensely overhyped, but You delivers on a pretty fun experience. If you’re thinking about watching the show then it’s better if you view it as a satirical psychological-thriller-dark comedy. There’s social commentary scattered throughout the series. There’s commentary on the Me Too movement, the show raises awareness for viewers to think twice because of stalkers, and the conversation on the show has people telling on themselves. For a show that originally aired on Lifetime this was better than I expected. It’s not too Lifetime-y and most of the acting is good. The last 3 minutes of the finale was probably my least favorite part of the series. The big twist at the end felt like it was shoehorned in just to setup a second season. Season 2 is supposed to be based on Caroline Kepnes novel Hidden Bodies so it’s going to be interesting to see how that turns out.
After releasing 2016’s Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins has returned with his latest film, If Beale Street Could Talk, which is based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name. The runner-up for the Toronto International Film Festival’s People Choice Award, the Annapurna Pictures distributed film stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James, and is a story about how the power of love conquers all, no matter how hard things can get. The story centers around Clementine “Tish” Rivers (Kiki Layne), a young African-American woman who, with the support of her family, attempts to clear the name of her boyfriend Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) who has been falsely accused of rape before the birth of their child. This is going to be a longer review, so let’s take this journey down Beale Street. Spoilers after the trailer.
Disclaimer: I haven’t read James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk….. yet.
If Beale Street Could Talk starts off strong. The first 30 minutes of the movie, for me, were magnetizing, and among the best of any film that was released in the year of two thousand and eighteen. Here’s a breakdown of the things that made it an impactful and memorable way to begin a film. Tish narrates in the beginning about her relationship with Fonny, and sets up the movie by letting the audience know he’s currently locked up for a rape that he did not commit. She visits Fonny in jail to tell him that she’s pregnant and that she’s going to get him out of jail so he can see the birth of his child. Tish has a powerful line in which she narrates, “I hope that nobody has to look at anybody they love through glass,” as the camera pans to her talking to Fonny through the phone in the jail visitation room. Fonny is surprised but excited to hear the news considering his current situation, and Tish lets him know she wanted to tell him before telling anyone else. The director chooses to use close-ups, which rely on the actors to stare into the camera and use facial expressions to convey different moods. It’s a romantic scene and it establishes the love these two have with each other within the first 10 minutes of the film.
Things become more interesting when we are introduced to their families and how they react upon hearing the news of Tish’s pregnancy. Sharon Rivers (Reginia King) is Tish’s mother and she’s the first person to hear the news. The way Barry Jenkins chose to shoot the scene was a crafty misdirection. Tish is sitting on a light orange couch with green curtains in the background, and she’s wearing a green blouse with a gold skirt and is the sole focus of the shot, as she’s timidly telling her mother that she’s pregnant. Meanwhile, her mother is dressed in a dark blue shirt with orange pants on the other side of the room, but she’s in the shadows and this gives off a vibe that she’s evil, wicked or is going to be angry that her daughter has been impregnated by a man who is currently incarcerated. Surprisingly, Sharon Rivers is happy and excited to hear the news that she’s going to have a grandchild.
During dinner the pair tell Tish’s father and sister the good news, and the family celebrates. The color scheme of gold, orange and green from earlier is still prominent in every shot and gives the scene a unique look. Tish’s sister Ernestine Rivers (Teyonnah Parris) is wearing green and orange, and her father, Joseph Rivers (Colman Domingo) is wearing a muddy green with gray to perfect the patina. When Tish hugs her father, his side of the room is brighter and it gives the impression that brighter days are ahead for this family.
After the two embrace, Joseph wants to break the good news to his coworker, who happens to be Fonny’s father, so the family invites the Hunt family over to dinner and for me, this is where the movie peaks. The Hunts, for a better word, are bougie, uppity, saditty… well the women of the family are. When Frank Hunt (Michael Beach) finds out that he’s about to have a grandchild he’s ready to celebrate, he even tells Joseph Rivers that they’re going to go out and get drunk tonight. On the other hand, Mrs. Hunt (Aunjanue Ellis) is not impressed. She blames Tish for her son being incarcerated. She thinks Tish isn’t good enough for Fonny and she always knew that Tish was trouble. Mrs. Hunt is a Christian woman and she brings all types of scorn and judgment onto Trish for having a child out of wedlock. The scorn from her daughters, Adrienne Hunt (Ebony Obsidian) and Sheila Hunt (Dominique Thorne), is just as strong. This conflict sets up an amazing scene of dialogue between the two wicked sisters and Tish’s sister Ernestine. Ernestine tells Adrienne and Sheila that she wants to rip the Adam’s Apple out of their throats. Mrs. Hunt takes offense and tells the Rivers family they’re going to hell for bringing this bastard child into the world, as Barry Jenkins focuses the camera on her face, out of nowhere Frank slaps the taste out of her mouth. I do not condone this behavior, yet the way this is filmed it lets the audience know the stakes are high and it gives you a deep dive into the relationship of the two families, and how they’re the complete opposite of Fonny and Tish. After the slap, Sharon Rivers tells Mrs. Hunt that that’s her grandchild she’s talking about and both of the families are going to do their best to raise the child. 30 minutes into the film and there’s effective storytelling, engaging dialogue and a plethora of spectacular shots.
Unfortunately over the next 87 minutes the film flattens out. A large reason for this is Kiki Layne’s inexperience when delivering the material she’s given. She plays the leading lady but she comes off as flat for most of the movie. It’s her first major role in a motion picture and it really shows, because she’s not giving her character any kind of emotion. There are times where she does a serviceable job, but for most of the film her performance isn’t up to par with the rest of the cast. In contrast, her co-star Stephan James does a phenomenal job with the time that he’s given on-screen. There’s an effective moment in the film where Fonny is planning a future with Tish, and he shows her how they’re going to decorate and model their future apartment together. It’s romantic, innocent and displays that the two have hope before the drastic event changes the course of their relationship. When he’s confronted at a grocery store by Officer Bell (Ed Skrein) the film builds up the tension again in an effective, yet gut-wrenching way. Even when patrons at the store stick up for Fonny, it shows how much love the rest of the city has for him.
Outside of the two main characters, the smaller characters do a superb job of bringing emotion to the big screen. Outside the first 30 minutes we did not spend much time with the rest of the Rivers and Hunt families. I do wish that we had, because of how productive the film’s opening act was. Around the second act there’s a scene between Frank Hunt and Joseph Rivers, where the two fathers are at a bar discussing how they’re going to come up with ways to make money to ensure that Fonny is free when their grandson, Fonny’s son, is born. With the small amount of screen time that Regina King has, she shines through as Sharon Rivers. There’s a noteworthy scene between her and Fonny’s accuser Victoria Rogers (Emily Rios), where Sharon confronts her, but Victoria is too traumatized from being raped that she doesn’t care if Fonny is innocent or not, she just wants a black man to pay for this. Victoria tells Sharon that Officer Bell told her to pick out Fonny in a lineup just so he could get his revenge from the grocery store incident.
One show stealing scene came from Brian Tyree Henry as Daniel Carty. Henry is in the film for at most 15 minutes, if that long, but his character adds to the weight of an already heavy story. Daniel Carty is a recent parolee and a close friend of Fonny. Before Fonny is locked up for a crime that he didn’t commit, Daniel tells Fonny what life was like in the slammer. If you’re familiar with Henry’s work on Atlanta then you’ll know he’s one of the best actors when it comes to giving his characters nuances. While Daniel Carty is recollecting his memories from being in jail, you can see the fear in his eyes as those memories are haunting him. Barry Jenkins uses close-ups and tight shots to maximize the effectiveness of storytelling.
Jf Beale Street Can Talk is a film where the parts did not make a great whole. There are powerful moments to like that are scattered throughout the film. However, as a whole the movie felt uneven. Barry Jenkins uses close-ups and tight shots, but they do not always pay off, and when they don’t it brings down the film. The veterans actors in the film brought their A-game and gave the movie some interesting personality worth seeing. Regina King, Stephan James, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo and Emily Rios all deserve recognition for what they brought to this film. If you saw Moonlight and enjoyed it then I would recommend checking this one out, for me, If Beale Street Could Talk was more enjoyable of the two. It’s a different spin on romance where the couple breaks up because of reasons out of their control, which is refreshing. James Baldwin’s novel was written over four decades ago, and its themes still relate today. If this was playing at a theater near you, then give it a viewing, my biggest issue is that the film didn’t finish as strong as it started. Some moments of the movie felt like a brisk jog down Beale Street, yet other moments felt like a slow walk instead of one smooth constant power walk.
[a si a si]
[All Mames Wey]
If Beale Street Could Talk was released in theaters on December 14, 2018.
Thank you for reading my review be sure to follow on the socials below:
They said go see it and write about it for your blog.... so I did.
Today, I experienced my first and most likely last Tyler Perry movie on the silver screen. Nobody’s Fool is the 22nd entry in Tyler Perry’s filmography and the 12th one without his cross-dressing alter-ego. Perry is the film’s writer, director and producer, and this is his first venture into R-rated comedy. The film’s cast consists of one of the most popular comedians of today Tiffany Haddish (The Oath), Tika Sumpter (The Haves and the Have Nots), Omari Hardwick (Power), Whoopi Goldberg (The View) and Amber Riley (Glee).
There’s a lot to say about this one, so here’s a breakdown…
On paper, the characters are presented with some sense of realism, at least early on in the first act. Danica (Sumpter) works for a marketing company and the movie makes it a point of telling the viewer that she is leagues smarter than her older sister Tanya (Haddish) who has been in and out of jail. Their mother, Lola (Goldberg) does not want anything to do with Tanya after she has been released from jail and forces Tanya to stay with Danica. There’s even some code-switching when Danica is at meetings with other executives at her job. Her best friend Kalli (Riley) is also a member of her team at work and they’re the only two black people on their marketing team (salute to black women!). Frank (Hardwick) owns a coffee shop that Danica frequents daily before work and gives her a rose and free cup every morning even though she is dating a man named Charles (Mehcad Brooks). Frank was also a convicted felon in his past who turned his life around and is now on the straight and narrow.
Production wise, the film is visually more appealing than Perry’s previous outing. Mr. Madea used the money he’s made in his career to buy quality cameras and it makes all the difference in the world. Haddish has a few funny scenes and jokes that establish her as the star of the film. Goldberg does the most with what she is given, and I wish she had more scenes in the film. There’s even a cameo by a big name comedian that I don’t want to spoil that started out funny but it went on for way too long. Hardwick and Sumpter like Goldberg do the most with what they are given.
There’s a bucketload of problems in this movie, but none of them are as atrocious as the film’s writing because it plagues the movie from the storytelling to the dialogue. As I stated earlier, the film makes it a point to let us know that Danica is intelligent, but somehow she falls in love with Charlie online. Charlie is a man she has never met in person, nor video chatted with and every time they’re going to Skype he finds an excuse on why he cannot. She sees Frank every morning and denies his advances because she’s in love with Charlie, which is fine, and that’s understandable.
When Tanya gets out of jail she calls MTV and gets her sister on an episode of Catfish. We’re still in the first act, and this movie just turns into a 20 minute episode of Catfish with Nev and Max discovering that Charlie is not who Danica thinks he is. Haddish makes a joke about wanting to have babies with Nev and Max at least 10 times in that 20 minute span. They trace Charlie’s number back to a guy named Lawrence (played by a surprise cameo). The confrontation between Haddish and the cameo starts out funny, but it goes on for too long. She and the cameo just keep talking louder and louder to get their jokes over with the audience. The big punchline at the end of the scene could’ve come sooner and it would’ve had a bigger impact on the film. Danica is heartbroken and gives Frank a shot and falls in love with him. This is where the movie could’ve ended and we all could’ve went home and this movie would have been mediocre…🗣BUT NAH WE CAN’T HAVE THAT.
Perry decides the movie needs more drama so the next scene is set 3 months later and the real Charlie appears to shake everything up. When Danica falls in love with Charlie, she shuns Frank aka the man she’s been in love with for 3 months now, it really doesn’t make any sense. Then Frank gets his heartbroken after he overhears Danica tell Charlie that Frank is noone to her. Then Perry turns the darkskin Charlie into a complete clown for some reason. In between all these scenes is just Tiffany Haddish being LOUD and YELLING all of her lines. Some are funny but again there’s a lot more misses than hits. If she was given better dialogue or if a few of her jokes throughout the movie were left on the cutting room floor then it would’ve helped the comedy aspect in the film.
This movie had the working title of “The List” which came from a list of qualities that Sumpter’s Danica was looking for in a potential lover. She didn’t want to date a man who had been arrested like Hardwick’s Frank. Through the whole movie she treats Frank as if he is less than human and it only gets worse after she finds out he’s done 7 years in jail. Then when they finally start to make it work she ditches him for Charlie who, again, she had never met in person. Even at her marketing job she uses the kind words told to her by Frank for a slogan for a perfume brand her agency is working for. Throughout the movie she is shown to be a terrible person and does not get any kind of comeuppance because everything bad that happens to her is undercutted by something good. Even after being catfished her sister is the one that confronts the catfisher on her behalf. Frank looks like a chump because he keeps going back to her even after Tanya calls him out for it and tells him to stop being a pushover. Frank being a former felon and a recovering addict, the movie presents him as a character for us to have sympathy for, but it’s hard to because he keeps going back to her which, I guess, that’s his form of a relapse.
This is Perry’s 19th (NINETEENTH!) directed movie, and the trailer gives off the impression of a somewhat competent Rom-Com so shout-out to the editors. Haddish’s brand of comedy is better suited when the director actually gives her direction instead of just letting her roam freely for almost 2 hours (110 minutes!). The few scenes with Whoopi Goldberg are genuinely funny, but they probably total up to at most 10 minutes. Tika Sumpter’s character has no redeemable qualities, which in turn makes Omari Hardwick’s character look like a sucker. Amber Riley’s character is just used to give exposition, it’s awful, she might as well be the narrator. Even the surprise cameo just felt like he was there to get a check. Sharper directing and tighter writing would shave off at least 20 minutes of this film and would’ve made it more enjoyable. Surprised Perry didn’t just shove Madea in the film… because why not? Lastly, if you’ve seen one Tyler Perry movie then you’ve seen them all; however, he is nobody’s fool because these movies always end up in the black.
[a si a si]
[All Mames Wey]
Nobody’s Fool was released in theaters November 2, 2018.