Top Three African-American Films of 2012 So Far
Spend one of the last weekends of summer with three films released this year -- and my personal favorites of the year -- that offer a unique urban perspective on expectations in life and love: THINK LIKE A MAN reflects on expectations between men and women, GOOD DEEDS on expectations from family, and CHANGING THE GAME on expectations in life.
Based on the best-selling book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey, THINK LIKE A MAN offers a democratic approach to the battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy. The pairings are familiar romantic comedy archetypes: the ring-seeker with the commitment-phobe and the successful woman with the regular Joe, the mama’s boy who pairs with the single mom, and the young woman who can’t quite keep a man with the guy who gets too many women. All learn important lessons about love. But the interesting twist on it all is that this movie offers a look at relationships from both sexes. Overall, the real charm of THINK LIKE A MAN is that despite relying on some cliches, its relatability on the subject of love makes it entertaining and good fun.
CHANGING THE GAME deals more with lessons about life. On the heels of Occupy Wall Street and the characterization of bankers as thugs, CHANGING THE GAME offers a sharp and smart comparison with Wall Street and the street life. From the streets of Philadelphia, Darrell (Sean Riggs, STOMP THE YARD) finds a way out of the hood, only for the hood to follow him in the most unexpected way. Raised by his God-fearing grandmother (Irma P. Hall -- a real treat in the movie), Darrell goes against stereotype and ends up at an Ivy League school and successful on Wall Street, only to realize it’s not that different from the street life he once knew. Using what he has learned on the streets, Darrell must adapt as he struggles to survive while learning crucial life lessons along the way. This second feature from Rel Dowdell (TRAIN RIDE) seems a bit contrived at times, but it ultimately works itself out. Don’t let the less-than-stellar production values deter you, CHANGING THE GAME offers suspense with a surprise twist and will keep you on your toes to the very end.
While you’re at it, check out TYLER PERRY’S GOOD DEEDS. A usually over-the-top Tyler Perry does a good deed and tones it down with this movie that undoubtedly tugs at the heartstrings. When a poor, down-on-her luck single mom encounters a powerful CEO, they both face integral lessons in life: there is kindness in humanity and it is OK to follow your dreams. Thandie Newton plays the down-and-out single mom Lindsay, and Tyler Perry plays the do-gooder rich businessman who has followed a path set for him from birth. Some parts of the movie are predictable, and GOOD DEEDS could have definitely used more laughs. But the film is a break from the over-the-top melodramas that we are accustomed to with Tyler Perry, and it definitely works here.
Originally from Durham, NC, Alece moved to New York City to pursue an MA in Film Studies at Columbia University and is currently the Outreach and Development Manager at Rooftop Films. Check out her blog: brooklyncinematic.com