In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_kate_plays_christine

Kate Plays Christine

An actress prepares to play the role of a suicidal news anchor, and is slowly transformed by the experience.

Thumb_war_dogs_ver2

War Dogs

War Dogs is a film about horrible people that refuses to own their horribleness.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Amos And Andrew

  |  

It's tough to laugh while you're hurting, but that's what "Amos and Andrew" wants us to do. This is a comedy about a wealthy African-American man who is mistaken for a burglar simply because he is black. The man has purchased a weekend home on an exclusive island enclave, and as he visits it for the first time, the neighbors see him and instantly assume he is a thief.



This is not a joke that will seem very funny to a lot of people. And although the movie strives mightily to teach its lesson, which is that you cannot judge a man by the color of his skin, the humor is undermined by the sadness of the basic situation. The movie is not bad so much as misguided. It contains a lot of funny moments and some good performances, but all the same.

The rich black man is played by Samuel L. Jackson, who was so good as the drug-addicted older brother in "Jungle Fever." Now, in a radically different role, he plays a wealthy businessman who naturally assumes he is under attack when the local police surround the house.

After a complaint is made by the nosy neighbors (Michael Lerner and Margaret Colin), the politically ambitious police chief (Dabney Coleman) flips into a siege mentality and informs the press that the owner of the house is probably being held hostage. One of the hotheads on his force (Brad Dourif) actually starts shooting at Jackson. And when Coleman discovers his mistake, he realizes he's in hot water unless he can come up with a fix, fast.

It's here that the movie finally develops momentum, as Coleman recruits a two-bit criminal in the local jail (Nicholas Cage) and orders him to play the role of a house invader, pretending to take Jackson hostage so that the false story will hold up. The relationship between Jackson and Cage is at the heart of the movie, and they make discoveries about each other as they also figure out what must have happened to land them both in such a strange situation.

The makers of "Amos and Andrew" are trapped, in a way, by their plot. I'm sure they have the best intentions in making a movie that demonstrates how white Americans (or at least the goofy neighbors in this film) can leap to conclusions about blacks. But the movie needs to be either more innocent about race in America, or less. It portrays an unpleasant situation and then treats it with sitcom tactics. Either the humor should have been angrier and more hard-edged, or the filmmakers should have backed away from the situation altogether.



Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

No Matter Where You Go, Here It Is: "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" Hits Blu-ray

A celebration of the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension," in light of the film'...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus