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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_10687421_10152289281917007_4858446204490388004_o

Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

Thumb_large_fqswmulnnx3zirvlso5sxv9zcn

Rudderless

If this directorial outing was in any sense an audition for the talented Mr. Macy, he should be congratulated on passing it.

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…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Woo

  |  

“Woo” is about a collision between black lifestyles, when a sexpot looking for “someone impulsive and exciting” ends up with a middle-class professional, and puts him through a severe psychosexual test-drive.

When the smoke clears, she's revealed as not quite as street as she pretends, and he turns out to have a few personality secrets concealed behind that white collar. Along the way, the movie touches on subjects usually side-stepped in African-American films, including the discomfort of black professionals around “country” behavior.

Jada Pinkett Smith stars, as Woo, a girl who likes to party and is looking for a man. Her transvestite psychic friend predicts that a dynamic Virgo is in her future, but she doubts it. That night, she drops in on her cousin Claudette (Paula Jai Parker) and her boyfriend Lenny (Dave Chappelle), but they want to be alone together, so Lenny talks his friend Tim (Tommy Davidson of “In Living Color”) into taking her out. Tim is a law clerk, studying for the bar; Woo suspects a bore, but agrees to the date when she finds out he's a Virgo.

That's the setup for a movie constructed so loosely that I had the feeling some of the characters were introduced after we'd already met them. The film is a series of episodes in which Woo and Tim demonstrate to each other's satisfaction (and certainly to ours) that they have no business being out on a date with each other--although of course, after they survive assorted bizarre adventures, a certain camaraderie grows up between them. As hostages of each other, they develop reciprocal Stockholm syndrome.

The running joke is that Tim doesn't know much about women or, for that matter, black culture. Fixed up on the blind date with Woo, he goes across the hall to get tips from his neighbor Darryl (LL Cool J), who supplies him with a kit containing various stimulants and preventatives, and a cassette of absolutely guaranteed romantic music (“by the time you get to side B, you should be naked”).

Woo is not in the mood to be wooed, however, and the evening breaks down into episodes such as the one in an Italian restaurant, where polite Tim doesn't get very far with the waiter, but Woo (who turns out to speak Italian) does. Then she sees an old friend through the window, and their reunion essentially demolishes the restaurant.

Movies like this don't really establish their characters and draw much of the humor out of their personalities; they go for quick payoffs, easy slapstick and in-jokes based on insults and code words. It's harmless and sometimes entertaining, but compared to Tommy Davidson's previous film, “Booty Call” or for that matter Jada Pinkett's work in “Set it Off” and “The Nutty Professor,” it's lightweight and disposable.

Popular Blog Posts

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

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

NYFF 2014: Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”

A review of Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice" from the 2014 New York Film Festival.

Interview: Cary Elwes on the Lasting Power of “The Princess Bride”

An interview with Cary Elwes about "The Princess Bride."

"1941": An Appreciation and Interview with Bob Gale

An appreciation of "1941" and interview with Bob Gale.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus