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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

Reviewer Roundup
1.  John Beachem review follows video review
2.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie review
3.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewvideo review
4.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie review
5.  Akiva Gottlieb read the review movie reviewmovie review
6.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by John Beachem
½ star out of 4

I'm going to keep this one fairly short, folks. In fact, I'm not even going to attempt a plot summary because there isn't any plot in "Black and White". James Toback, previously responsible for releasing the atrocious "Two Girls and a Guy" on unsuspecting audiences back in 1997, has created a true piece of garbage here. This is the kind of movie that screams for an NC-17 rating, being filled with fairly explicit sex scenes, constant violence, and more foul language than you hear in any Quentin Tarantino film. The MPAA rating system is supposed to keep kids from seeing a movie like this, but the theater I saw it in was filled with young high school students. I know it's naive to think that kids won't see a movie like this no matter what kind of rating it has, yet I can't help but think an NC-17 rating would have prevented at least a few kids from attending.

First I'll try to cover what I liked about this movie, which shouldn't take too long. There are one or two slightly comical moments, though I can't seem to remember what they involved. That about sums up what I liked about this movie. I don't often award one or five star ratings, but I was very tempted to give only one to this piece of filth. I knew I was in trouble as soon as the film started with a semi-pornographic scene involving two of the main characters (Bijou Phillips, Power) and one minor character in a threesome in the middle of the woods. I suppose the purpose of this scene was to convey how messed up these kids are, but it struck me as being present only for shock value. In fact, there are several sex scenes sprinkled throughout "Black and White" which enhance the so-called story in no way.

I will hand one thing to Toback, he pulled in quite a cast. Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Brooke Shields, Claudia Schiffer, and the great Joe Pantoliano all make appearances in this god forsaken movie. Stiller ("There's Something About Mary") plays a gambler (a somewhat autobiographical decision by Toback I think) who appears very few times and never quite fits in with the rest of the movie. Robert Downey Jr. (the horrendous "Two Girls and a Guy") plays a gay man, who I believe was intended to be humorous but was simply vulgar instead. Brooke Shields ("The Blue Lagoon") and Claudia Schiffer both show up in very minor roles, which distract the audience rather than add anything to the movie. Last, but certainly not least, is Joe Pantoliano ("The Matrix", "Bound"), who is completely wasted as a father of two of the young, stupid characters. Showing up in a hilariously pointless cameo is Mike Tyson himself.

Allow me to now point out the half dozen or so items which make this a horrendous movie. One, half the dialogue is completely unintelligble. The characters banter back and forth, swearing every other word and saying things which no one over the age of fifteen could possibly understand. Two, there is no plot to speak of. There are a few subplots involving things like sports gambling and coping with ones identity, but none of these side stories are ever developed. Three, I think this was supposed to be a profound look at racism and life in an inner city, but it succeeds only at insulting members of both races. Fourth, there is no direction whatsoever. The movie jumps aimlessly from person to person and situation to situation without any idea where it is going. Lastly, the film's ending left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. I normally don't give away plot points, but the movie's ending seems to imply that family can triumph over anything by doing things like pulling together to lie and cover up murders. "Black and White" runs the longest 98 minutes you'll ever experience. I recommend it to absolutely no one and give it one and a half out of five stars.

Copyright 2000 John Beachem

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