I have trouble finding anything positive in films that slam race, sexual preference, or gender in comedic form while trying at the same time to be politically correct social commentaries. To be more specific, I had a hard time finding anything positive in Black And White.
Black And White focuses on a group of uptown teens who prowl the inner circles of the black community. More specifically, they’re a gang of rejects trying to make a fresh start in the hip-hop industry, longing for the lifestyle and culture. Tagging along for the purpose of documenting the teens is a freelance filmmaker named Sam (Brooke Shields) and her rather eccentric and homosexual husband, Terry (Robert Downey Jr.).
Brooke Shields goes against her typecast here, actually pulling off the liberal with ease. On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr. as her partner is a complete distraction and waste of screen space. His character adds nothing to the plot. His presence as the homosexual stereotype is misleading and pointless as the film’s actual purpose is a commentary on race, not sexual preference.
The teens, all raised by prominent families in households with actual butlers and servants, are privileged misfits offering an exaggerated portrayal of rebellious youth. The parents are too oblivious and class conscious to be believable. It would seem that part of the humor in Black And White is taking absolute extreme stereotypes and placing them in absolute extreme settings. In all honesty, it’s not funny, especially with the serious undertones.
Add to the mix Mark Clear (Ben Stiller), a rehabilitated gambler turned detective, and Greta (Claudia Schiffer), his ex-girlfriend in the throes of an interracial relationship, and you’ve got one big melting pot. Trying to be catalysts, the two instead create confusion. It’s like they’re two subplots pulling the film in opposite directions. Sound confusing? Well, it is.
Black And White is more of an offensive debacle than prominent film-making. Sure it’s an original idea, but all races are misrepresented and falsified for the purpose of cheap laughs.
Filmed with choppy edits and different camera angles, Black And White tries to pull off the look and feel of a documentary. One should note that I say they try, not succeed. Instead, this film comes across as disjointed and heartless. Downright crude and offensive, Black And White is nothing more than explicit degradation.
+ Ashley Adams