Artisan // 2002 // 90 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // July 23rd, 2002
Surfin' for cyber booty!
Max, Drew and Jellyroll are three funk-tified friends from high school just illin' and chillin' in the 'hood when their romantic foibles slap them upside the head. Their ten-year class reunion is just around the way, and there's this old bet to deal with -- whomever has the hottest date at the shindig walks away with $50 small ($50). Only now, their geeky friend has parlayed that cabbage into $50 large ($50,000). J-Ron, a stuck-up, successful nemesis, has returned to town bragging he'll claim the prize. It's up to these desperate and dateless dudes to line up some fly girls as quickly as possible. And what better way to guarantee that hijinks will ensue than cruising the chat rooms on the Internet. It isn't long before our three Don Juans are running from psychos, mixing with the mentally and physically challenged, and entertaining the fringe element of society in an attempt to get a hook up before the cash makes a splash into J-Ron's stash. However, the perfect date may be right under their noses.
Chat Room is funny. It's not clever, witty, or outrageous. It's just funny. All the insight you need into the level of sophistication present is in the premise. It's not out to make some grand political/social statement, or highlight the idiosyncrasies of black culture. It's simply a series of gentle, amateurish blackouts, the success of each depending on how hilarious you find the setup, execution, or satire. There are a few gross out style jokes (including a VERY funny one referencing The Fly) and some rather broad stereotyping (hairy girls, she-males, thug hoes). But overall, the film is a culturally hip goof. In spite of its tired setup, you'll find that the acting is consistently good and that many of the gags work. Barry Bowles is not a fancy camera angle director. He simply points and shoots. But everyone works double time to infuse this slight comedy with life. There are plot holes a plenty (they can't pay rent, yet they have laptops and Internet access?) and some of the costumes look like they were stolen from a junior high school rummage sale. Still, if you go in not expecting very much, and relax and just hang loose, you will find a lot to smile (and laugh) about in Chat Room.
This Artisan DVD has a distinct homemade flavor to its menu screens, and there are issues with the access to scenes or extras via the "menu" and "enter" buttons. The picture is good, thought not as defined as it could be. And while this DVD offers a full screen presentation only, the framing guarantees that you won't miss anything. Sound wise, the Dolby Digital stereo is adequate, but nothing really special, which is odd considering there's a "featuring music from the new CD..." byline on the keep case. You'd expect the sound to be phat! On the extras tip, there are 10 minutes of outtakes offered (that's it). In reality, these consist of scenes from the movie in differently edited versions. It's easy to see why trims were made. Overall, for a low budget film with no special effects and limited sets and locales, the video and DVD presentation are very professional. It might not rank up there with the classic urban comedies or '70s blaxsploitation, but for an unrated feature with no nudity, violence, and a minor amount of language (much less than was expected) this is one visit to a Chat Room that won't leave you feeling soiled and in need of a shower.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Full Motion Scene Selections