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Black and White

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Black and White

Starring: Oliver Grant, Ben Stiller
Director: James Toback
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: April 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Gaby Hoffman, Kidada Jones, Jared Leto, James Toback, Sticky Fingaz, Method Man, Garry Pastore, Claudia Schiffer, Brooke Shields

Review by Steve Rhodes
1 star out of 4

BLACK AND WHITE, written and directed by James Toback, is for filmgoers who like fast-paced movies that assault their senses with a plethora of stereotypes. During the opening credits, an interracial threesome engages in wild sex in the woods while another guy guards the lovebirds with a big gun. Most of the blacks in the movie are criminals who appear to have low IQs. The young whites, on the other hand, want to imitate them and try to become black. Neither race comes off very well.

Given Toback's last film, the insufferable TWO GIRLS AND A GUY, perhaps one should not be surprised by how atrocious BLACK AND WHITE is.

After the opening sequence, we cut to a scene in which the white teenage girl, Charlie (Bijou Phillips), from the threesome in the woods, is having a formal dinner with her family. As classical music plays in their Central Park West home and as the mother goes on about the quality of the quail, the daughter trash-talks her father with a heavy black accent. What does her father do? Corrects her grammar, reminding her about avoiding double negatives. Of yes, their servants are black, of course.

A good cast of thousands is wasted in a movie with a script that feels like it was torn apart and reconstructed at random. There are more subplots and characters than you can count.

Allan Houston plays a basketball player whose sense of morals ends the moment someone waves a wad of cash in front of him. Ben Stiller is the cash flasher.

As documentarian Sam Donager, Brooke Shields is an obsessive filmmaker who would never think of stopping the camera even when a heavy-weight champion (Mike Tyson, who proves he can't act) is strangling her husband. Robert Downey, Jr. plays her flagrantly gay husband.

Sam's documentary is about white kids who want to be black and part of the hip hop culture. The white kids even refer to each other as "niggas." Removing the profanity would leave these kids -- black and white -- with almost no dialog save some filler phrases like "What's hapnin'?"

"It's all BS," says one of the characters. (He says the complete phrase, of course.) And so is this disgusting and unappealing movie.

BLACK AND WHITE runs 1:39. It is rated R for strong sex scenes, drug usage, massive profanity and violence. (Does anything get an NC-17 anymore?) The film would not be appropriate for most teens, who will undoubtedly represent 90% of the audience in most theaters.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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