Where’s Kevin Costner when you need him?
Set in the 1960’s, three sisters form a Motown singing group, but fame has a heavy price, and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) is seeing her family fall apart right before her eyes. While Sparkle is writing her songs, it’s her sister, named Sister (Carmen Ejogo), who has center stage. The other two sisters are backup for her, but she is a troubled soul and could make all their hopes and dreams come crashing down.
Being one of the only three white people in a crowd full of black people, I went into this expecting nothing much except for good music, some good times, and also, something that may have not necessarily been targeted towards me. Thankfully, I got both with just a bit more than I expected and yes, it was for me.
I never saw the original Sparkle, and to be honest, I have no plans on doing so since it seems like this one takes that story, adds nothing new, but somehow still makes it work. I think a lot of that credit has to go director Salim Akil who actually generates a lot of nice touches here and there with rich human moments that sometimes ring true, and plenty, and I do repeat, plenty of great music to listen to and even dance along to. The Motown sound is one of the best and this film remembers it all in the best ways with a lot of of fine tracks you may have, or may have not heard before but regardless, you’ll be tapping your toes and fingers. Now maybe if the Motown sound isn’t your bag, then this probably won’t be the best film to jam around too but since it’s mine, I enjoyed that aspect of this movie. Hell, I already listened to the whole soundtrack so you know it got me going!
But once you get past all of the exhilarating and fun musical numbers, you get what is none other than your usual, predictable story of a bunch of gifted singers, trying to make it big but end up falling short due to some terrible occurrences. Yeah, it goes down the road you would expect it to within the first 5 minutes and it’s a shame because this film could have really shown off some real twists and turns that would have gripped me a lot more had they decided to go down the road less traveled with musical flicks. You get wives being beaten, race cards being pulled, felonies committed, and racial politics being discussed, and it just gets to be the usual cliché-ridden tale you would expect from a story about a bunch of singers in the 60′s and 70′s.
But at the end of the day, everything is predictable and obvious but you never once get left out the story. There’s a type of sensitivity that Akil brings to this material where he spends times with these characters, allows us to get to know where they come from, and where their dreams are headed. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is a rich character drama that takes time with it’s story and characters, but at least it gives us something to hold onto and make us root behind these people when their lives really seem to go to shit. But it wasn’t just Akil’s direction that made these characters work, a lot of that has to be because of the ensemble cast of characters on-display here that make every one-dimensional character, seem like a hell of a lot more despite what’s on paper.
American Idol hopeful Jordin Sparks does a fine job as Sparkle because as cliché and obvious this character’s motivations can be, she at least makes her appealing and cute to the point of where she’s at least someone we like to watch on-screen, even if everything she says and does is pretty much calculated. Carmen Ejogo kicked ass as her sister, aptly named Sister, who is the obvious Beyoncé of the group who’s live eventually starts to go down-hill once too much fame and drugs come into play. I’ve seen this Ejogo gal before in other stuff before but whatever it was, it doesn’t matter because she did a great job giving a character that is pretty two-dimensional, more of a heart and soul that feels battered (literally) and bruised due to all of her problems with breaking out of normality. Maybe I gave the character more to chew on than this flick actually did but at least she kept me interested and I wouldn’t have minded seeing a whole film about her.
As for the dudes in the cast, they all do fine with a certain somebody, once again, stealing every scene he was in. Mike Epps did a phenomenal job as the hated comedian, Satin Strothers, who just disrespects everybody he comes around and doesn’t do a nice thing throughout the whole movie, but yet, you still want to see more of him. Epps is one of these actors that can use that perfect blend of seriousness and comedy to his advantage, which he does in-fact show here very well, but there’s a type of intensity to him here as well that makes his character so damn scary whenever he’s on-screen. Yeah, the dude is pretty much your essential dickhead that doesn’t do anything pleasant throughout the whole movie, but with Epps playing him, it’s all fine and dandy.
The real shame of this movie was that this was going to be Whitney Houston‘s big comeback and sadly, as everybody knows, she died about three months after completion for it and what a freackin’ tragedy that is man because she does a great job here as the girls’ strict momma. Houston has never been an actress to write home about but at least she gives it her all and this flick as the momma that is never, ever allowing them to make the same mistakes that she did and you can feel her love and emotional support from her the whole movie. It also helps that when Houston belts out one song, she tears down the house, as you would expect from her and it’s just another sign that she could have really came back after all, and tore it down once again. Sadly, that did not happen and it’s a total disappointment.
Consensus: Sparkles features little or no surprises when it comes to its story, but features a great load of nostalgic music that takes us back to the Motown days, some fantastic performances from the cast that actually elevate these characters, and a couple of nice touches here and there of melodrama that work more than they should.
I thought black weddings were a lot more fun.
It’s a comedic clash of African American cultures when the hoity-toity clan of bride Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) and the proudly blue-collar family of groom Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) gather on Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate the couple’s nuptials.
A couple of weeks ago I got these chicken fingers from ACME and inside of them there was this one free coupon for a One-Night DVD Rental from Redbox. Sadly, I used it with this.
What I liked about this film is that there are the occasional little laughs here and there and this film does have a nice heart in the right place. We also see the culture-barrier between high class African-Americans and low class African-Americans, which I haven’t really seen brought up in many films let alone black rom-coms.
However, all of this was taken away once the actual script started to come in play and by God, did it really ruin things. None of this here really seemed real at all and just seemed very tacked on for humor. There’s this character named Amy, played by Julie Bowen, and she has never really been around black people. So she starts to mutter her curiosities about chicken, sunscreen, race, and so many other things that I guess were supposed to be funny but instead just felt forced.
But when the comedy isn’t working so isn’t the drama, and this is even worse. Everything here is a bunch of soap-opera melodrama cliches where everybody talks like their about to cry one minute or start making out the next. There’s all of these little sub-plots that I could keep up with but the problem with this film is that these two big climactic moments within the script come and they just feel like total cliches in and of itself. I guess this film really wanted to bring out some tear-drops from the audience that went to go and see this but here it just made me laugh at what everybody here was saying.
There’s also this big theme about how God is big in all of these people’s lives and to me, it seemed stupid and a bit preachy because all of these people are acting like assholes but when something bad or horrible goes wrong, they started holding the bible praying to “God”. Give me a damn break! There is just some religious themes I can, and then there are others that just make me laugh at the utter stupidity that lies within them.
Although the script blows, I actually did have some fun with this cast. Paula Patton is endearing and sweet as Sabrina; Laz Alonso is pretty charming and believable as Jason; Angela Bassett is pretty good as the stuck-up mother of Sabrina; and Loretta Devine is funny but a little annoying as Jason’s mom, which is probably because her character is such a bitch about the whole wedding cause they want to jump over a broom. Come on! The real revelation of this whole cast is Mike Epps as Uncle Willie who pops up every once and awhile with his hilarious one-liners and brings so much energy to this film every chance he gets.
Consensus: Jumping the Broom has moments of sweetness, much ado to the good cast, but the script here is filled with melodrama cliches, shallow writing, and religious themes that just all forced upon the viewer for no reason.
PS Everybody I will be gone for the next three days until Saturday because I’am going to this retreat for my school. So, I won’t have anything new until then but feel free to check any review you want, comment, and even send me some e-mail love for when I get back. I don’t know, just surprise meee! Hope everything is all good when I’m gone and if you need me, you know where to reach me. I think that was a pretty good line right there.
I wonder what would happen if this occurred in my “hood”.
Kevin Carson (Bow Wow), a young man living in the projects, dreams of having his life changed by winning the lottery — as do all his neighbors — but when Kevin finally hits it big, he must keep his good luck secret until he can claim the prize. Thrilled to be in possession of the $370 million ticket, Kevin endeavors to keep his scheming and sometimes hostile neighbors at bay.
Looking at this premise, it actually looks like Friday stretched out over an entire weekend, but sadly it’s nowhere close.
The one thing I must say about this film is that it does have some fun moments. The humor here is short and sweet, and it’s overall generally harmless. I didn’t find myself being offended by any of this (probably because I’m white), but if I was black, I don’t think I would be offended by this either.
My main gripe with this is its tone is all-over-the-place. The problem is that it’s social-political commentary isn’t very smart, it’s humor isn’t hilarious, and it’s drama isn’t thought-provoking. There’s a huge struggle with tone issues here because there’s some real shocking gritty realism, but then at the same time it still has that over-the-top ridiculous humor. For instance you can’t have a slimy preacher talking about some girl he thinks is hot, and then in the next scene talk earnestly about giving back to the community, just be a comedy.
Let’s not also forget the huge amount of stereotypes, and cliches that are within this script. This film is very shallow, showing these people walking around with guns as if it’s nobody’s business, everybody going crazy after this one kid for his money, and there’s actually a girl who just wants to be a baby daddy. I have no idea why there would be so many tired stereotypes in a film that tries to show that the hood isn’t such a bad place after all.
However, the cast is what really brought this film all together in the end. Bow Wow is not the best actor, but there is something magnetic about him on screen where he actually looks like he’s having a good time. This a more adult lead role for him, and I can see that he has got enough charm to carry a film. Ice Cube (who also produced) plays Mr. Washington, and makes a good acting choice as he brings out that distinct coolness about him, and he really commits to being this old man which I surprisingly bought. Naturi Naughton plays Bow Wow’s best friend, Stacie, and has one of the most endearing and likable performances of the whole cast. The rest of the ensemble is filled with plenty of stars such as Brandon T. Jackson, Keith David, Charlie Murphy, Loretta Devine, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Terry Crews, Bill Bellamy, Mike Epps, and the marvelous thespian that is, T-Pain. All do fine with their little jobs but are never fun enough, and aren’t really given much of a shot to be as hilarious as I know they can be. Still, they add a lot of fun to this film.
Consensus: There’s an amount of fun here that isn’t wasted, especially not on its cast, but Lottery Ticket suffers from a tipsy-turvy tone, non-stop stereotypes, and tired cliches. However, you will enjoy yourself if you’re looking for a fun story that all means well in the end.
The film that almost every teenager in high school quotes.
When three friends (Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper) finally come to after a raucous night of bachelor-party revelry, they find a baby in the closet and a tiger in the bathroom. But they can’t seem to locate their best friend, Doug (Justin Bartha) — who’s supposed to be tying the knot. Launching a frantic search for Doug, the trio perseveres through a nasty hangover to try to make it to the church on time.
This is a film I have seen numerous times, and each time I have always laughed more and more than the other, but never have I actually had the time to write down a review for this. Finally, I got it all down on paper, or computer.
The film is directed by Todd Phillips, of Old School fame, and I must say he hasn’t lost that comedic touch but here he put’s a spin on premise that has been time and time before, and make it something hilarious but also interesting. This has a sort of Reservoir Dogs feel to it, where you don’t actually see the event that the whole film centers on, until later on, but that makes you apart of actually piecing together what happened, which is really a lot of the fun.
Though, it’s not all about the plot really, it’s more about all the non-stop jokes that go on throughout this whole film, that has had people quoting it for the past 2 years now, and when that will ever stop is something I don’t have the answer to. The best thing about this screenplay is that it knows what it is, it’s not trying to do anything different, or smart, it’s just raunchy, gross-out, and sometimes smart dude humor that always works. Almost every single line here is instantly quotable, and will have you laughing about it for days.
My only complain for this film is that the whole resolution to this film seemed a little dumb. When the ending happens, this whole sweet little message comes into place, and I didn’t buy it one bit. Maybe it’s just me who actually cared about this, but I don’t know this part just seemed a little forced for me.
The whole cast here is what made this adventure through Vegas the laugh-out-loud riot that it is. This is one of the first films that put Bradley Cooper on the map, and with great reason because he’s awesome here as the slime-ball, sexy man Phil. I like how the film relies on Cooper for his good looks, but he still has that charm that makes his lines so much funnier than they may seem. Ed Helms basically plays the same dude he plays on The Office, but I must say it doesn’t fail here one bit as Stu. He starts off as this totally whipped, nerdy moodle (check it out on Urban Dictionary), but then after the party something changes within him and he’s almost like a bomb for the whole rest of the film. He’s just tick, tick, ticking away until he finally breaks loose and breaks out some of the funniest lines within the whole film. The real showcase in this film is Zach Galifianakis as the strange, and possibly-brain-damaged, Alan. I love all of Galifianakis’ stand-up, and his stuff on Funny Or Die, and watching him here bring out some of the most insane, and possibly funniest lines of the whole movie had me finally understand why he is in almost everything now. I just hope he goes back into that little cage, and stop being so over-exposed appearing in crap all over the place, especially ones like Due Date. I still want my money back by the way Zach! All three of these guys play off each-other so well, and create a realistic bro-mance that actually seems like three opposite individuals like these could actually come together on a crazy trip like this.
There is also a whole bunch of funny side acts/cameos here that will have you laughing even more once you see them. Heather Graham is just so stunning in almost everything she does, and she is very funny here. I also still do not know how she still looks like Rollergirl from Boogie Nights. And that was about 13 years ago people! I was disappointed Justin Bartha didn’t get more screen-time, because he’s always hilarious in everything he does. I laughed my ass off at every time Ken Jeong was on the screen, and is by far the best Asian gangster in film history. Also, who can forget Mike Tyson drumming out to Phil Collins? There are also some nice cameos from the likes of Mike Epps, Jeffrey Tambor, and The Dan Band.
Consensus: The Hangover is exactly what everybody says it is, a laugh-out-loud riot, with instant quotable lines, and crazy situations that will have you laughing for days on end. The perfect guy’s film with an amazing cast, that will keep your interest the whole adventure. Let’s just hope this second one, doesn’t blow as much as I think it will.