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