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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Meagan Good

Roll Bounce (2005)

Is this what the kids nowadays call “blading”……yo?

After the death of his mom, Xavier (Bow Wow) has been having a bit of a rough go. His dad has hit a serious case of depression, his little sister needs someone to look up to, and yeah, he basically just doesn’t know where he wants to go, nor what he actually wants to do with his life. The only thing in his life that he is certain about is roller-skating, but even that’s hit a bit of a rough patch now with his local skate palace being torn down. Now, without one near by, Xavier and his buddies have to travel all the way uptown, where the people are richer, more priveleged, and oh yeah, whiter. Obviously, Xavier and his buddies stick out like sore-thumbs amongst this very rich and preppy crowd, but they make it all work by just being themselves, skating their assess off, and having a good time through it all. But with local skate legend Sweetness (Wesley Jonathan) back in town and looking to maintain his territory, Xavier and his boys are going to have to step up their games.

Both on and off the rink.

Lean with it….

Roll Bounce is pretty conventional and formulaic, but it’s also the kind of movie that gets by solely on the fact that it’s so sweet, so earnest, and so easygoing, that it’s easy to just forget about all of its issues and enjoy the time you have with it. Granted, there are plenty of problems and, if you’re looking very, very close, you can probably see more bad then good, but for me, Roll Bounce feels like the right kind of soft-hearted nostalgia that means well, isn’t trying to change the world, and just have some fun. In other words, it’s what every movie, ever made, should aspire to be.

But once again, there are those problems that keep Roll Bounce away from achieving some actual greatness. For one, its plot is a little flimsy and at times, doesn’t seem to really be making much sense of itself. While it’s not all that hard to do a coming-of-age tale, it’s also a lot harder to sort of screw it up, where your messages about growing up, becoming an adult, and figuring out just who, or what, you are, don’t fully come together. Xavier, on paper, is our traditional protagonist for a story such as this, and while it’s not hard to sympathize for a character who has already endured so much hardship, it’s not hard to sort of not care about any of it all.

Of course, that isn’t to discredit Bow Wow, or anybody else in this cast – the problem is purely a script issue.

….rock with it!

Director Malcolm D. Lee and screenwriter Norman Vance know how to set the mood and the tone for a movie taking place in the dog days of summer, where everything is catching up on itself, memories are being made, and yeah, people are getting a little tired of the damn heat, but when it comes to making a real compelling story out of it all, they sort of drop the ball. It’s just too melodramatic and cheesy at times to fully work; while it may appear to be a sort of sports movie, it is, in actuality, a family-drama that never gets all that interesting. Chi McBride is good as Xavier’s dad who has some real problems of his own, and had he been given his own movie, it probably would have worked, but put up against Xavier, his wacky and wild buddies, and whatever the hell they’re doing at the skating-rink, yeah, it feels odd.

That said, the tone here is quite infectious and it’s hard to really get past that. It’s close to two hours and yeah, it definitely doesn’t need to be; some characters get development and certain shadings that, quite frankly, don’t really matter, or even go anywhere. But the skating stuff, in and of itself, is what saves the movie, because whenever it seems like the story’s getting too far gone in its own head, thankfully, the bright colors, the loud music, the huge afro’s, and the constant rolling, take over and make things better.

If only for a small bit.

Consensus: Clearly an earnest and sweet piece of nostalgia, Roll Bounce gets by solely on its charm, and not anywhere near its story, or its sometimes odd script that doesn’t always have the faintest clue what it wants to be, or do.

6 / 10

Take the skates off and yeah, they’re just a bunch of punks! Get a job, ya damn kids!

Photos Courtesy of: Fox Searchlight

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Friday (1995)

I guess the hood ain’t such a bad place to live after all.

Craig (Ice Cube) spends most of his days doing nothing, staying unemployed, and just trying to get by in life, constantly chilling with his boy Smokey (Chris Tucker). However, the day that comes between Thursday and Saturday hits and for some reason, there’s something different about the day that isn’t like every other one.

By the mid-90’s, the hood subgenre of film became a bit of a joke. The themes, the violence, the stereotypes, etc., had all been played-out so much so that by a point, there was even a Wayans spoof on it all. What once had been a reliably sad and effective genre of film-making, soon became a bit of a stale product, that only seemed to get worse with each and every attempt at creating something close to resembling Boyz N the Hood.

Every neighborhood’s got a dude like this.

Which is why, at the time, and of course, now Friday is such a breath of fresh air.

Sure, is it a “hood film”? Yeah, it is, but it’s a different kind of one. It doesn’t really try to lay down some life-altering message about getting out of the hood and making a better future for yourself, nor does it ever seem to try and ever take itself too seriously. If anything, it’s just a smooth, relaxed, and downright silly comedy about one day in the hood, where some good stuff, some bad stuff, and some wacky stuff happens in, of all places, the hood.

And yes, Friday works because of that; it’s a very chilled-out kind of movie that doesn’t rush itself, doesn’t have too much of a plot to really get going with, and it sure as heck isn’t running too long with its barely 90-minute run-time. And none of this is a bad thing, either – most comedies, like John Waters always says, should barely be 90 minutes and Friday works well for that reason. A lot of the gags are so quick and random, that they somehow just work and come together, because the movie doesn’t harp on them too much, just like it doesn’t slow itself down with jokes, either. And it all matters, too, because, well, the jokes are actually pretty funny in and of themselves.

Which is why it’s hard to go on and on about Friday without talking about the one and the only, Chris Tucker.

Gotta get down on….

I think it goes without saying that Tucker makes Friday as funny as it can get. He’s often the scene-stealer, using his high-pitched squeal and delivery to make any joke land, as well as seeming like the funniest guy in the room, amongst a pretty funny crowd. It’s not really known how many of his lines were scripted, or how much everyone involved just trusted him to do his thing, but whatever it was, it works and it’s because of Tucker that even when Friday seems to meander a bit too far away from itself (which it often does), it still comes together in the end.

Which isn’t meant to take away from everyone else here, but yeah, when compared to Tucker, it’s hard not to notice. For instance, Ice Cube plays the straight-man, and seems to be having fun, even though often times, his role seems to just be used as the protagonist we see everything through. John Witherspoon is also a lot of fun as his daddy and kept me laughing every single time he showed up but also provided a lot of insight into how daddy’s usually are with their older, bum-like children. Nia Long is also nice as, once again, the romantic love-interest in a hood flick, while such comedic-greats like Michael Clarke Duncan, Faizon Love, and Tiny Lister, and oh, of course, Bernie Mac, all show up, do their things and remind us why they’re so funny in the first place.

But where Friday doesn’t hold up for me (and granted, I have seen this movie about four-to-five times now), is that it’s direction is a bit sloppy, however, with good reason. At barely 25 years of age, F. Gary Gray took over Friday and seemed like he didn’t have to do all that much, but somehow, the movie is still a bit messy. The best aspect of the movie is how, for the longest time, there’s really no plot and nothing needing to drive it by, but by the end, all of a sudden, there’s a plot, there’s a serious conflict, and there’s a, unfortunately, message that we’re all supposed to learn from. If anything, it feels lame, tired and annoying, and it seemed to only happen because Gray was just getting started and needed to get his foot in somewhere.

Thankfully, he did.

Consensus: Even with a slightly amateurish direction, Friday still works because of its odd gags, relaxed, yet pleasing tone, and of course, the exciting cast, led by a stand-out performance from Tucker.

8.5 / 10

Damn, indeed.

Photos Courtesy of: Filmaholic Reviews

Think Like a Man (2012)

Whoever knew that the dude who hosts family feud is a lady killer.

The film is based on four friends who have their love lives shaken up after the women they are pursuing buy Harvey’s book and start taking his advice to heart. When the band of brothers find out that they have been betrayed by one of their own, they conspire to use the book’s teachings to turn the tables.

Steve Harvey is a dude that I think is pretty funny and cool but never did I know that he had this much shit on men, or even African American men for that matter. This man is not only betraying all men but also his own race as well. Harvey better keep on checking behind his back from now on.

Instead of telling off the whole self-help book for a whole 2 hours, the film revolves around a bunch of people who get into relationships and do the normal thing that people in relationships usually do: go out, fall in love, get into a big fight, break-up, then get back together. This is the formula for almost every rom-com and just because this one is based on an actual best-seller, doesn’t mean that there’s much new to see here either. However, it is still a pleasant comedy none the less. I won’t lie, I definitely did have a couple of pretty good laughs here and there and what liked most about this film’s humor was that it had a lot of scenes where guys would just constantly mess with each other about their woman and love lives. It’s always fun to see this kind of stuff be portrayed in movies because with guys, it happens all the time and is usually very funny for the guys that aren’t getting picked on.

The problem is that it can only go so far because once these “romantic” stories start up, things start to fall apart for this film real quickly. It’s biggest problem here is that since there are about 4 or 5 stories here, that means we have 4 o 5 stories that basically all play out the same, exact way with little, different variations here and there. The relationships starts out exactly like each person wanted, but then the males start to realize that “their game” is being taken from them, courtesy of Harvey’s book. Therefore, they go out and find a way to turn the tables on the ladies and give them what they want and tell them what they want to hear, even if they don’t do what they say in the first place. This gets repetitive after awhile as we see almost every story just turn out the same as the one before it. It doesn’t matter if you watch rom-coms or not, you can pretty much guess what’s going to happen to these characters and their relationships just by noticing the formula here.

This probably wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the really lame-ass characters that are all pretty much one-dimensional with the exception of a few. These characters get put into these categories early on in the film and then we see how they interact with the opposite sex, and that’s pretty much all of the charisma and development to them. Sometimes this film will try and correct this mistake by giving us a background check on some of these characters like when Romany Malco’s character starts to miss his R&B band that he used to play with, or like how Jerry Ferrara’s character can’t get rid of his geekdom, or that for some odd reason, Terrence J can’t get past the fact that he’s a momma’s boy and she isn’t going to appreciate anybody he brings home. Honestly, none of these characters have much going for them and as much as these stars may try their hardest to make it work, the thin script just sort of ends up taking over.

The characters that I did like and could at least appreciate were also the best performances in this cast, which isn’t saying much but still, it’s worth some sort of praise. I liked Michael Ealy a lot as the chef with dreams, Dominic. Ealy has always been a pretty solid actor for the longest time but keeps on getting put in crap that doesn’t show what he can do with his depth but I think his performance here is pretty good and gives us a character that is easy to like and identify with since we all want to do something with our lives and achieve our dreams one day. Just like me, maybe one day I can hope of being the next Roger Ebert. Then again, it’s very unlikely.

The other great performance was from fellow Philadelphian, Kevin Hart, who plays the “happily” divorced Cedric. Hart is so funny here with this material because he has this great comedic timing where he can make a script like this even more ridiculous than it already is. Hart has always been funny but he gets the biggest laughs here and also has the best character that obviously is bitter towards his divorce, but every time he shows up on-screen, he pretty much just steals it from everybody else who shares it with him. Hopefully, this film may get him some more attention and place him in better comedies because with his charm and over-the-top small guy shtick, he can go pretty far.

Consensus: Think Like a Man has a couple of good laughs, mainly because of Kevin Hart and many others in this large cast, but what really takes away from this flick is its predictable and cliched solutions, that wouldn’t be so bad in the first place if these characters weren’t so damn one-dimensional in the first place.

5/10=Rental!!