Friday, January 23, 2015

Booty Call

1/4

Starring: Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx, Tamala Jones, Vivica A. Fox

Rated R for Non-Stop Sexuality including Sex-Related Dialogue and Crude Humor, and for Strong Language

Sometimes the best sex in the world...just isn't worth it.--tagline for "Love Stinks"
There is a reason why sitcoms are only 30 minutes long (including commercials).  It's because their plots and characters can't sustain themselves for much longer than that.  For a comedy to be able to last 90 minutes (which is typically as long as any comedy can last), it has to have an idea that can grow and change direction.  The idea, following two guys who are trying to get lucky, has promise to be a raunchy, madcap screwball comedy like "The Three Stooges" meets "There's Something About Mary."  The execution, on the other hand, does not.

Rushon (Davidson) has been dating the lovely Nikki (Jones) for seven weeks.  Much to his irritation, she has not given him entrance to her golden temple, if you know what I mean.  Desperate, he sets his best friend Bunz (Foxx) up on a double date with Nikki's BFF, Lysterine (Fox), who, conveniently for the plot, lives across the hall.  While Rushon and Nikki play lovey-dovey, it's hate at first sight between the womanizing Bunz and the man-eating Lysterine, until they realize that they can both speak Chinese.  Then both couples pair up, which in a better world would lead to the end of this dud of a comedy, but alas the film is just getting started.  And not for the better, unfortunately.  You see, Nikki is all about safe sex, and convinces Lysterine to be the same, so Rushon and Bunz have to go out to buy condoms, and...

You get the idea.  Granted, expecting anything highbrow from a plot like this is a lost cause, but expecting a few cheap laughs is definitely realistic.  Unfortunately, the film plays safe at every corner, going for the quick and easy punchline.  There are a few clever one-liners, I'll admit, but 95% of it is what you'd expect to get on a TV sitcom if there was no FCC breathing down the writers' necks.

None of the characters are sympathetic.  They're either a, obnoxious (Bunz), b, bitchy (Lysterine), or c, invisible (Rushon and Nikki).  Worse, they're boring.  The former isn't fatal to a comedy, but the latter descriptors are.  How can we laugh at someone who is less interesting than watching paint dry?  It would be like watching the mos personality deprived individual try and do stand-up.  Every person would be counting their Z's in a heartbeat.  And the film doesn't even earn it's high moral stance on safe sex, since it uses it just to stretch out the plot to (barely) over an hour.  The girls are as much concerned about being safe as they are manipulating their ever-horny dates (the latter of which is unbelievable in and of itself, considering the time period the film takes place under).

The acting is uninspired.  The straight men (so to speak) are Rushon and Nikki, but neither gives a memorable performance.  Tommy Davidson has little charisma or talent; in fact, the word "desperate" couldn't be more obvious had he been wearing it as a sign around his neck.  Tamala Jones is adorable, but gives a very flat performance.  The film's comedy, a term I use very loosely, is provided by Jamie Foxx and Vivica A. Fox.  Both are good actors (Jamie in everything, and Vivica in "Independence Day" and "Set it Off"), but not even actors of their talents can rescue this limp material.  Interesting side note: Takashi Bufford co-wrote this film and the aforementioned "Set it Off," starring Vivica A. Fox.  He was also set to direct it, but backed out for personal reasons.

The film was directed by Jeff Pollack, who has directed three films, "Above the Rim," a film starring Tupac that I haven't seen, this, and "Lost and Found" starring David Spade and the lovely Sophie Marceau.  As bad as that would-be romantic comedy was, this is worse.  His shot selection is completely generic; it looks and feels like a sitcom.  A really bad sitcom.

A final word about nudity.  Normally, this isn't something I notice in a film since in most movies not named "Basic Instinct," it doesn't make a difference.  But since this film is so lame, I had to find other ways of not turning off the film.  For a film that is so focused on sex, or the lack thereof, there is no nudity.  Male or female.  It's not really a big deal, except for the fact that it makes the sex scenes so obviously fake.  I don't know whether it was because of no-nudity clauses or what (considering American prudishness and the pervasive existence of these in Hollywood, I'm guessing that this was the case), but if the director is careless enough to show a guy with his underwear on after a girl rode him ragged, the movie is screwed.
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No pun intended.

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