It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Forest Whitaker. Ebola. “Precious.” Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Diff’rent Strokes.” Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. “Planet of the Apes.” Kim Kardashian. These and many more are among the varied and random celebrities and pop-culture phenomena “Meet the Blacks” mentions during a running time that feels longer than its mere 90 minutes. Even by the standards of raunchy, comic spoofs, director and co-writer Deon Taylor’s film feels especially scattered. It’s as if he and co-writer Nicole DeMasi sat in a room, made a long list of movies, TV shows and famous people, then brought it to the set and had the actors come up with improvised bits in which they drop them here and there.
There also may have been some legitimate, relevant intent: “Our lead actress looks like Sofia Vergara—let’s just mention the name Sofia Vergara; that’ll be good for a laugh! We got Mike Tyson to do a cameo, and he’s willing to play a deranged party clown and wear a silly wig! But still, let’s do an ear-biting joke anyway. Just ‘cause, you know, it’s Mike Tyson.”
It very well might have gone down this way. You may find your mind wandering toward such theories during “Meet the Blacks,” given that the movie itself is so shaggy and shambling—and not in a pleasingly lived-in, Richard-Linklater kind of way. Just in a messy, incoherent way.
On its most basic level, “Meet the Blacks” is a spoof of “The Purge,” the 2013 thriller about a near-future America that’s peaceful and crime-free because one night a year, everyone is allowed to go on a murdering, thieving rampage of catharsis. But it puts a racial spin—supposedly for satirical purposes—on a movie that already was a satire of society’s ills. “Meet the Blacks” doesn’t have much to say, though, and doesn’t say it with much bite.