Hunty. I had braced myself for some mess when I read the review on Roger Ebert’s website of Taraji P. Henson’s latest movie (which she had the nerve to produce as well as star in), Proud Mary. I went to go see it anyway, eyes wide open…or at least they were wide open for the first hour, after which I can neither confirm nor deny that I took a nap. I can confirm that at the ripe, still-fine age of 78, Tina Turner’s legs are better than this movie, and I would have rather spent the 1 hour and 26 minute run time watching her dance on them with “Proud Mary” on loop in the background than sit through what I saw yesterday at the Regal.
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I believe this movie was not good. But let me say upfront, unequivocally, that you need to go see it anyway. First, I will tell you what was wrong with it.
- The cinematography was a mess. The shots were choppy and jumpy, the camera seemed to focus on the wrong things at the wrong time, and the lighting…oh boy.
- The acting was spotty. Taraji definitely has action hero chops, but girl, Danny Glover sounded like he was reading off a cue card the whole time. The child lead was touch and go. And the movie COMPLETELY wasted Margaret Avery (known for her role in The Color Purple as Shug).
- The dialogue was laughably bad at some points. I burst out laughing at Taraji’s delivery of a very, very, very ridiculous line towards the end of the film. You will know it when you hear it, and you will also know that it was clearly not meant to inspire the type of scream-laughing that it invariably encourages.
- The story was mildly interesting, if completely old-hat. But the predictability! Maybe if it had gone the route of The Professional (sorry Taraji), it would have been a bit more interesting.
- There was no sex. Every good action film needs a sex scene. The closest you get…ain’t close enough. And they had a fine black man just ready and waiting, too! The romantic sub-plot is not even developed enough to make sense in the end, so it just should have been nixed altogether.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This movie was bad, but it wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t even the worst movie I have seen this year (The Vault on Netflix). And if you go in with snacks, homies, and forewarning, you can have fun laughing at the bad parts while still supporting all the future good that movies like this can bring us.
So yea…Tina Turner did not drop kick the hell outta Ike in that limo for dis, and she definitely did not lose her hair to a bad perm for dis, and she DAMN sure did not eat the cake for dis. But, at the same time, King (and Malcolm, and Medgar, and all of ’em) died for dis.* They died for us to be able to make the same dumb ass movies that white people make all the time (Liam Neeson – Taken in a Rental Car on an Air Hanger on a Cargo Ship 92) and they be just as bankable. They died for us to be able to have range in Hollywood, playing action stars as well as screaming baby mama’s on Fox (no shade). They died so that we could be seen (and be able to see ourselves on the screen) as people that do all of the things that people do—not just sidekicks, not just secretaries, not just gang-bangers, not just nannies, not just extras on the set of the lifes of White folks, but people. Stars. Leading ladies. Love interests. Heroes. Writers. Directors. Producers of our own shit and some of theirs too. And even if some of it is hot mess like this movie, some of it is going to be great, liberating, empowering, beautiful, fulfilling, soul-filling, truth-telling, therapeutic, and necessary [Queen Sugar, Fruitvale Station, Atlanta, Insecure, Black Panther (we claiming it), Girls Trip, Pariah, Crooklyn, etc.].
Maybe you disagree. Maybe you will only support black shit if the quality is superior to everything that white folks ever made. Maybe you are perfectly fine spending your dollars to support the latest atrocity that Jason Statham churned out (Mechanic 43: Intergallatic Space Ford Taurus), but you won’t go see anything by homegirl Taraji unless it’s an Academy short-lister. Cool, then definitely don’t go see this, and also don’t ever ask me why ain’t no black folks in the movies neither.
Otherwise….for the culture.
* I fully understand that none of these people dropped dead of their own volition so that the White man would deign to give us rights, so don’t get it twisted. They were murdered by racists who were operating through and protected by the racist system implemented by our racist society. This statement is not literal, and I’m sure you know that, but I had to make that clear as day for those in the back.