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Movie Review: “Meet the Blacks”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 4/1/2016

Theatrical Release: 4/1/2016

Synopsis

Carl Black (Mike Epps) has moved his family into a new neighborhood. It is a wealthy, gated community, and it is predominately a white neighborhood. Carl moving his family into the community has stirred up some racial tension among his neighbors, but Carl, having grown up in very different circumstances, is proud to be able to move his family into a large house in a nice neighborhood, even if it has resulted in some unwanted attention. Unfortunately, this may not have been the best time to stir the pot.

The annual purge happens once a year. For one night, all crime is legal, including murder. The intent of the purge is to reduce crime for the remaining 364 days of the year, as it provides citizens a chance to get everything out of their system on purge night. With the annual purge right around the corner, the racial tension that Carl has brought with him into the neighborhood has put a target on his back. Come purge night, Carl and his family will find out which of their neighbors are racist, but Carl will need to find a way from keeping those neighbors from harming his family. He has been through a lot to get his family into this wealthy lifestyle, and now he will need to fight in order to hang onto it.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Awkward Comedy (+3pts)

Irrelevant Comedy (-4pts)

Mike Epps (+2pts)

The Plot (-4pts)

The Premise & Relevant Comedy (+4pts)

The Acting (-3pts)

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Pro: Awkward Comedy (+3pts)

The setup of this movie provided some of the most effective comedy of the movie. The comedy in the beginning of the movie worked so well, because it was more subtle and more awkward. It was the type of comedy that The Office did so effectively. Do not, however, confuse my point to be that this movie was anywhere near as funny as The Office, that is an unfair expectation to have for any movie or show.

What I meant is that this movie had some characters saying some really awkward, and passively racist things, and it was pretty funny. There was not a lot of it, but it was really effective when it was happening. People saying cringe-worthy things, and the recipients' responses to those things were just a blast. This movie could have worked really well, and these moments made that really obvious. If only the filmmakers had focused more heavily on this style of comedy.

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Con: Irrelevant Comedy (-4pts)

This movie was a parody, that much was really clear, but that did not mean that the comedy had to be as ridiculous as it was for the majority of the movie. Think of the most ridiculous parody movie that you can. Now think of the style of comedy in that movie that made it so ridiculous. A lot of this movie's comedy was exactly that. It was like the filmmakers had their idea of a cheap parody movie, and they actively chose to make their comedy as ridiculous as possible. There were plenty of moments that worked, sure, but it was like the filmmakers threw a hundred darts at the board at the same time; a few of them were bound to hit something good, but many of them were bound to miss their mark. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy a good dumb comedy, but a lot of the comedy in this movie felt random, irrelevant, and ridiculous, and it made a lot of these attempted comedic moments fall flat.

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Pro: Mike Epps (+2pts)

Mike Epps was a good fit for this role. He did a pretty decent job of playing into the parody style of comedy, while also pulling the plot of the movie along when the character needed to be at least a little serious. This was not a dramatic performance, and it was far from being a clever comedy. It was entirely intended to fall into that stupid, silly, and ridiculous style of comedy, and Mike Epps played his part well. Being the lead actor in this movie, he did a decent job of keeping the silly tone constant, while also keeping the plot moving, and that was exactly what this movie needed from him.

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Con: The Plot (-4pts)

My issue with the plot of this movie was that it was either none existent, or it had very little to do with the premise of the movie. The filmmakers felt the need to explain how Carl could afford to live in this community, and they did so in the most stereotypical way possible. The stereotype, however, was not my main issue with this part of the story. My issue was that it ended up taking the focus of the movie away from the unique premise.

The only part of this movie that had any real plot, felt like a distraction from the movie that I wanted to watch. There was this whole other thing going on that was unrelated to the purge, and I just could not get behind it. Why did Carl's wealth have to be explained? Why could they not have simply established that he worked hard, saved up to buy the home, and just left it at that? By trying to explain Carl's presence in the community, the filmmakers sort of went down a rabbit hole and got distracted from the part of this movie that people wanted to see. Unfortunately, whenever this movie was not focused on explaining Carl's wealth, it was like there was no plot whatsoever, as it instead just felt like a random sequence of events with no purpose.

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Pro: The Premise & Relevant Comedy (+4pts)

I have mentioned this already, but the premise was the best thing going for this movie. A parody story about what a black family would have to go through if they lived in a predominately white, and also racist, community during the purge was was an interesting idea. It was a really strong idea that could have provided a lot of relevant, and hilarious moments, and I liked seeing how the filmmakers explored this premise. They had a decent premise here, and Meet the Blacks was absolutely at its best when it was focused on that idea.

With respect to both who was coming after Carl and his family, as well as how Carl and his family responded to the situation, this idea just worked really well. It was funny and it also shed a comedic light on the very real problem of racism still alive in the United States today. While the racism in this movie was very far from subtle, the movie was able to make us reflect on the current state of racism in the United States while also making us laugh. I liked this idea a lot, and if more of the movie had stayed focused on it, I probably would have enjoyed the movie a lot more than I did.

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Con: The Acting (-3pts)

The acting in this movie was bad. Mike Epps did okay, but almost every other actor delivered over-the-top, cartoon-like performances, and it made it hard to get into this movie. I get that this was a parody, but it was like filmmakers see bad acting and bad comedy as requirements for parody movies. This style has worked in the past, for movies like Scary Movie, but that movie's success was due to it actually being funny. In this movie, that was not true, and the bad acting just made the movie's issues more apparent.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (73pts)

I thought this movie had a really good premise. It could have worked really effectively, as it could have provided plenty of comedy focused on the culturally relevant racial issues in the United States. Meet the Blacks was definitely at its best when it was focused on this premise. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seemed to get distracted from this premise while trying to explain how Carl was able to buy his new home.

The writers definitely got carried away here. Rather than just imply that he worked hard, and saved money, the writers went down a rabbit hole and came up with an explanation that was stereotypical and not very funny. On top of that, there was no real plot for the rest of the movie, and every actor delivered cartoon-ish, over-the-top performances that repeatedly took me out of the movie. Meet the Blacks had a fun idea, and there were some fun moments scattered throughout the movie, but overall I thought it could have been done a lot better.

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