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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.82%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 29.55%
Pretty Bad38.64%
Total Crap: 15.91%

4 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Black & White
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by Chris Parry

"James Toback desperately tries to claw back commercial appeal... and fails."
3 stars

Anyone who had the misfortune to try James Toback's Two Girls And A Guy is probably still hurting from the experience. It wasn't pretty. Chatty, long, much ado about bugger all, you almost forgave it as Toback having fun with friends and just accidentally happening to get released. Sadly, the only thing consistent about Toback's work of late is it's alarming inconsistency, and though Black And White marks a definite attempt to throw together something meaningful with a story people will pay to see, Toback can't help himself. He's just having too much fun.

So Ben Stiller is a cop. He wants to set up a college basketball player to shave points in a game, thus arresting college-boy and ending his relationship with Stiller's ex-girlfriend. I could buy this part of the story. If Stiller's ex wasn't Claudia Schiffer. I mean, let's be real here, Stiller looks like a posterboy for Uncle Moisha's Dradel Factory, Schiffer is the aryan example of perfect German molecular and genetic engineering, the two look about as right together as Hugh Hefner and Madeline Albright.

Ew. There's an image to fight off.

So college boy has an opt-out that will save his ass. He can rat on his hood-buddys and their illegal activities. His hood-buddy's, on the other hand, are trying to go straight by signing a record deal. When they're not hip-hoppin' the house down, they're being tagged by a group of suburban whitebread teens who want to be black. These kids are in turn tagged by a dreadlocked documentary maker (Brooke Shields) who wants to know why they want to be black. The filmmaker's husband (Robert Downey Jr on day release) is overtly gay and has desires for Mike Tyson, who also happens to hang with the homies. Busy crib, bro.

So, okay, cutting away the crap, what's it about? It's supposed to be about racial interaction, the influence of hip hop and how it's made it cool to be black, even when the black community is still treated less than equally. Noble concerns and had they had more than about ten minutes of play we could all sit around and applaud Toback and his grandiose concern for race relations.

But ten minutes don't make you an omelette, bitch.

Toback drifts into all sorts of ridiculous territory, as his scenes lope from farce to drama, social statement to silly story, and he seems intent on giving every person he's ever encountered a cameo, no matter how ridiculous it comes across. Toback even fails to resist the urge to throw himself into the fray, as a record executive not cool with the idea of letting the homies use his studio.

The one pearl amongst this blamange of bland (please don't let Bijou Phillips ever act again, even if she does get naked at the drop of a hat. It's just not worth it.), is one Michael Tyson. The earchomper has really no part to play here, but he's thrown in as a sort of homie-made-good, and deals out the kind of 'withdom' that leaves you thinking more 'how on earth did he agree to say that' than 'how witty'. Tyson's self-deprecating turn is hilarious, if out of place, and really rounds this off as less of a serious film project and more like a National Lampoon's Toback Reunion.

Let me clarify, it didn't stink up the place like yesterday's shrimp cocktail. It's certainly compelling. But so is a car wreck. Black And White, on the car wreck scale, is like an Edsel flipping along the blacktop, end over end, in slo-mo for two hours. You're sure it's going to explode at some point, it just has to. It can't go on rolling like this forever.

And then it stops. And you leave the cinema.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/18/00 23:30:55
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User Comments

1/12/08 mr.mike Found it surprisingly watchable , and Downey and even Shields were very good. 4 stars
4/01/06 Tanya interesting I liked robert downey jr. 4 stars
6/14/05 Weltner Anti-White cinema,same old,same old. 1 stars
10/13/04 Laura If u don't have any thing nice to say, DON:T SAY IT AT ALL!!! 5 stars
10/04/03 Josh better than most think 4 stars
2/22/03 nanite if you think this movie is idiotic, it goes all the way to being ludicrous in german 2 stars
12/13/02 Monster W. Kung Ok premise, but the film structure goes nowhere and the plot falls apart more and more. 2 stars
6/24/02 blake loved it 5 stars
1/03/02 jon j waste of time 1 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean Bad enough that it was a shitty, directionless movie. But it was long as hell too! 1 stars
8/31/01 Amy A numbing mess, some solid acting, but I'd be more entertained doing laundry 2 stars
7/29/01 the Grinch Black and white like a turd with peanuts in it... 1 stars
5/09/01 zer0 Mike Tyson is the only reason to watch this film. Watch him bitchslap Robert Dwney Jr. 2 stars
11/19/00 The Bomb 69 all over the place, glad he tried something different, but overall... 2 stars
10/18/00 Klute Plenty to enjoy, but the sum of it's parts don't equal a good film. 3 stars
5/03/00 H'wood bigshot Didn't go far enough. Bro's shoulda killed all, cussed out audience/shot the finger at all. 1 stars
4/15/00 PJ I love Toback, Fingers, and 2 Girls and a Guy, great as was this mess of a good movie 4 stars
4/14/00 D117 Makes Black people look like a bad influence. That's a bad message for the film to give. 1 stars
4/12/00 Moskkina Toback rips off Clark's "KIDS" horribly lame flick about pathetic & sad wannabe white kidsd 1 stars
4/07/00 leah this movie could have been 4 hours long and i still would have been completely content. 5 stars
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  28-Sep-2000 (M)

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