Back to the Drawing Board: 9 Black Films That Were Disappointing…
I’m a big movie fan, and a big black movie fan at that. Therefore, when new movies come out by black directors and with interesting, hot or amazing actors, I try to support them. But in my years, I’ve seen a lot of overrated movies. This list isn’t to be mean, I’m just being honest about the fact that these nine films got my hopes up pretty high, only to leave me feeling jilted, confused, and of course, disappointed.
I know we here at Madame Noire, like many people, pushed really hard for this film. It was mostly done in the hopes that we could make Hollywood see that big budget black films could be marketable. And while it was a valiant effort, this movie was just not what I was expecting. The action sequences were pretty good and the men were FINE with a capital F, but the dialogue was horrific. Allegedly they were trying to make the characters sound like individuals from films back in the ’40s, but I’ve seen movies from the ’40s (thanks college film class) where people didn’t talk so cheesy (i.e., “Thank goodness those Red Tails were here!”). I’m not saying it was the worst film ever, and I do appreciate the information it provided me on the Tuskegee Airmen, however, within the first 10 minutes of watching, I was blown away by the writing (and not in a good way). And that love story they threw in there? Raaaaaandom.
Granted, most films that are spawned from dope literature are usually a fail in most people’s eyes, but Beloved was all over the place. Maybe it was just a book that didn’t need to be turned into a movie and needed to be left to the imagination? Between Danny Glover’s awkward love scenes with Thandie Newton and Oprah, and my expectation that Lady O was going to kill it Color Purple style (she was…okay), a lot of the time, this movie was hard to work with. The book was able to do what the film could not: jump from one time period to another and weave in and out the complicated lives of its characters without throwing you off. But then again, it took me two readings of the book to get it…so…?
For Colored Girls
I’m not a big Tyler Perry fan, therefore, my expectations for this film weren’t all THAT huge. However, seeing the cast and knowing the play had me kind of geeked. A lot of the performances were magnificent, however, I found that what you can get away with on stage doesn’t work so well on-screen (just like with Beloved). Some characters were focused on and developed well, while others often came off like extras (such a waste of Kerry Washington’s talents in this movie). While many women were blown away by the film (the response on social media seemed pretty positive), I left feeling underwhelmed. I can say that they did a good job of using the poetry in the film, but in the end, there was just too much going on at one time to keep me excited. And if Mr. Perry doesn’t stop trying to force feed us Janet as an actress…I just can’t.
She Hate Me
I’m like a Spike Lee junkie. I’ve seen most of his films and own a majority of them (She’s Gotta Have It is everything to me), but one that I bought as a fan, thinking it wouldn’t disappoint, actually left me feeling mad confused. That of course was She Hate Me. I love me some Anthony Mackie, and clearly I’m a Kerry Washington fan, but these two couldn’t save a story that was a stretch by even my man Spike’s standards. I was a fan of one part of the plot that touched on the unfair consequences people have to deal with for doing the right thing (the inclusion of Frank Wills of the Watergate scandal was a great idea), but how that turned into a man selling his sperm to lesbians and fathering countless children all over NYC? I don’t know. The movie seemingly ended with this guy in three-way relationship with his ex-fiancée and her girlfriend, and I (as well as my pretty disgusted mom) were left scratching our heads and left pining to watch Mo Better Blues instead.
A huge Outkast fan, I believed all the hype about this film so much that I bought it to watch rather than renting it first. Uh, big mistake. While a charming piece of work when it comes to the visuals (all that color and those costumes, my goodness!), still, as my friend would say, you know a film is in hot water when you can’t remember what the plot was. This was my first time witnessing Paula Patton on-screen, and while she was great, the movie as a whole was just okay. Films that center around black folks running a juke joint and all the dirty dealings of it need a lot more than good music and Andre 3000’s fine self to keep folks interested for hours.
Under the Cherry Moon
Speaking of musicians making movies, Under the Cherry Moon is another film based around the music of a popular artist that fell flat. After Purple Rain, I think people thought Prince could do anything, throw some dope music in it, and the world would come running. But Under the Cherry Moon was not worth running to the theaters for. While Purple Rain‘s soundtrack was enough to make you ignore the underwhelming acting, Under the Cherry Moon couldn’t really do all that. I did enjoy seeing Prince act a fool as his character, Christopher Tracy, but did I really need to see Jerome Benton trying to act? Without Morris Day, he wasn’t as much fun. Blame it on the bad writing (gigolos in the French Riviera? Say what?) or the fact that instead of seeing dope musical performances, we only heard Prince’s amazing tracks as background music, but I now understand why this film is so easily and readily available on Netflix.
Their Eyes Were Watching God – TV movie
Who didn’t have huge hopes for this little TV movie? Zora Neale Hurston’s book is the definition of a classic, and to see Janie’s struggles come to the “big” screen sounded like a fantastic idea. But what we saw on TV was just…okay. The love story of Tea Cake and Janie was a beautiful one, and the chemistry between Michael Ealy (again, FINE) and Halle Berry was great on-screen, if not steamy. However, as critics would say, it seemed that too much time was spent focusing on their love rather than presenting Janie’s story in full (what about the trial for the killing Tea Cake? Or Janie’s childhood and mother?). Also, it just came off kind of boring. It was a nice production on Oprah’s part, but as usual, I think I’ll stick to the book.
Shame on me for having expectations about a film that had to be hidden from view for a good while after Chris Brown’s legal troubles, but with that supremely yummy cast of men, I was just hoping that with all the hype, it would be pretty good. But if ATL taught me anything, it’s that movies with T.I. are just not for me. The dialogue in the movie, as with Red Tails, is so cliche and cheesy, but in reality, so is the story. Meet the heist team. One guy from heist team goes to jail, and former partner takes his girl. Guy comes out of jail and back to his heist team (unwelcomed really), and has a big bone to pick post-jail with everybody and their mothers. Add that to over-the-top scenes with Chris Brown’s random display of Parkour as well as T.I.’s confusing bad guy accent and even with the fine cast, you’ll only be willing to watch this baby once.
Antonie Fuqua’s “Good cops gone bad” film had the opportunity to do big things. It had a great cast (Don Cheadle can make anything awesome), and Brooklyn! What else do you need? But somehow, this movie just became a hot mess withing the first 45 minutes of watching. The characters make horrible, yet predictable decisions all the way through, and there are a lot of unnecessary parts of the film (for instance, having to watch Richard Gere’s prostitute girlfriend have sex with him and random dudes in the longest scenes ever…), including those braids somebody tried to put on Wesley Snipes’s head. In the end, the film was pretty brutal. All the people you want to survive don’t, and everything bad that can happen, does. Once again, predictable. Where’s the fun in that?
Which films would you add to the list?
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