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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 Natasha Theobald

"What about the beauty of gray?"
3 stars

I think this movie wants to be about something, but that something gets lost in the mishmash of happenings and the glut of characters. Points are taken up only to be quickly dropped and never heard about again. While it is great to bombard the audience with lots of different views and ideas, a more cohesive presentation might have elevated the proceedings and illuminated the movie's reason to be.

Sam Donager (Brooke Shields) is a documentary filmmaker. With her husband, Terry (Robert Downey Jr.), she tracks down a group of white, upper class kids who are drawn to hip hop culture and follows them in an attempt to understand them. They lead her to a group of friends surrounding a new recording artist, Cigar (Raekwon). Through them we meet a basketball player (Allan Houston), who is dating a student (Claudia Schiffer) writing her thesis on race. The basketball player is offered a bribe to fix games by another man (Ben Stiller), who may have something personal against him. One of the white kids (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is the brother of another kid (William Lee Scott), who is more ensconced in the world his brother occasionally visits. He is asked to take care of a situation by Rich (Power), which means silencing a potential problem with a gun. This is complicated, because the boys are actually the estranged sons of the District Attorney (Joe Pantoliano). Also, a club is being opened in Rich's neighborhood by some white kids (Scott Caan, etc.), who did not have the courtesy to come to Rich about it first. Did you get all of that? There is more, but I'll let you see the movie to decipher it.

While the non-actors are a little uneven, the documentary idea sort of smoothes that over with a fly on the wall perspective. Among the most fascinating things were a few, fairly telling scenes with Mike Tyson, as himself, being very interesting and accessible. William Lee Scott is good as a kid fighting to lose the identity he was born with and gain the respect of new peers. Allan Houston could be in another movie, as he does fairly well with what he is given. My eye is always drawn to Robert Downey Jr., and he has good energy as a gay man swept up in a working relationship with a woman, his wife, although the addition of this story further convoluted the whole affair, which I thought was about race. Ben Stiller can do anything, including drama, and his (possibly) non-scripted stuff is really wonderful. There are a lot of big name actors with very little screen time. For example, don't see this movie just for Jared Leto or Elijah Wood, because they are barely in it.

This movie is worth watching as people watching. We never have enough time with any one character to really get them, but, as they breeze by us, we do get an idea of different lives and different ideas.

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originally posted: 01/22/03 07:19:16
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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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