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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.

Meet the Blacks

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 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. 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 citizens seem to get it 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 keep 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, because the comedy in this section was a little more subtle. I will get into the comedy that I did not like next in this review, but for now I will discuss some of the comedy that I enjoyed. 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 awful expectation to have to live up to.

What I mean is that this movie had some characters saying really awkward, and passively racist things. These were some of the comedic moments that I thought worked the best. 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. This movie could have worked really well, and these moments made that really obvious, if only the filmmakers had more effectively followed through with the premise.

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Con: Irrelevant Comedy (-4pts)

Okay, now for the comedy that I thought missed its mark. This movie was a parody, that much was really clear, but that does not mean that the comedy had to be as ridiculous as it was for the majority of the time. For a second, think of the most ridiculous parody movie that you can. Now think of the comedy in that movie that was so ridiculous that it caused the moment to fall flat, almost like the comedic writers were trying way too hard.

A lot of this movie's comedy was exactly that. It was like the filmmakers had their idea of a cheap parody movie, and thought that they needed their comedy to be in the same style. There were plenty of moments that worked, sure, but the ridiculous moments that worked were like throwing 50 darts at the board at the same time; a few of them are bound to hit something good. This may sound like I am bashing the movie a bit too hard. There really were plenty of comedic moments that worked, but unfortunately for me, the slight majority ended up being too ridiculous or too random for me. Maybe I have matured too much since my middle-school years, when I loved the random comedy in these stupid parody movies, but my wife would almost certainly disagree with that statement.

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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, while also pulling the plot of the movie along when the character needed to be (albeit only minimally) more 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, 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, which is 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 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 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, I got the impression that the filmmakers went down a rabbit hole and got distracted from the part of this movie that worked the best (the premise). However, with a movie like this, it would be naive of me to expect a well-written, properly developed plot, so maybe the joke is on me.

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

I have mentioned it a few times 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 comedic moments, and I liked seeing how the filmmakers of this movie 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.

Between who was coming after Carl and his family, and how Carl and his family responded, this idea just worked really well. It was able to make me laugh, while also shedding a comedic light on the disturbingly real racism that is present in the United States to this day. The movie had an idea that was both funny and culturally relevant. While the racism was at least somewhat exaggerated, the movie was able to make its audience think about the current state of racism in America while also making its audience 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, cartoonish performances. I get that this was a parody, but the exaggerated performances made it hard to get invested in what was happening. Movies like Scary Movie got around this by having their characters be really silly and over-the-top in some scenes, and somewhat more serious in others, in order to move the plot forward. The filmmakers of Meet the Blacks did not do this. Their characters were over-the-top the entire time, which made me not really care about any of them. That all being said, this was a parody movie, so I should not have expected much better.

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, providing plenty of comedy and culturally relevant racial tension. Meet the Blacks was definitely at its best when it was focused on this premise. There were plenty of effective comedic moments surrounding this idea, a good portion of this coming from the awkward situational comedy at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately, the filmmakers seemed to get distracted when trying to explain how Carl was able to buy this new home.

The writers definitely got carried away here. Rather than just imply that he worked hard, and saved money, the writers went in a very elaborate and stereotypical direction. This storyline pulled a lot of focus away from the premise, and I was not into it. From there, there was no real plot for the rest of the movie, and every actor delivered cartoon-ish, over-the-top performances that took me out of the movie. Meet the Blacks was a fun idea, and there were some fun moments scattered throughout, but overall I thought the movie could have been done better. At the end of the day, however, this was supposed to be a stupid comedy, and that is exactly what it was.