Artisan // 2000 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // September 14th, 2002
Live by the street...die by the street.
Dateline: Tampa, Florida
Judge Bill Gibron sentenced Jacked Up, a recent DVD release from Artisan to 250 years hard labor, 25 years for each of the 10 counts of crimes against cinema and digital consumerism the movie was charged with. In an excerpt from his written opinion, Judge Gibron explained why this story of a street punk who tries to turn his life around and help the family of a man he murdered received such a harsh verdict.
EXCERPT FROM THE OPINION -- Dated August 22, 2002
Having been forced to sit through Jacked Up not once, but twice, it is with a significant amount of revenge that this court imposes the toughest, harshest penalty possible, on both film, and the DVD presentation. No mercy is shown to Jacked Up. Its attempts to defend itself, to argue that its tale of gang violence and moral rehabilitation is viable and vital entertainment, have fallen on the court's large, deaf ears. During the court proceedings, Jacked Up tried to show that it's main character, Dre, made amends for killing an innocent man in a carjacking by befriending the family and making their life better. It argued that the film illuminated the point that those who live by the sword will die by said. It made spurious claims that the theme of every bad deed not going unpunished, no matter how much penance is paid was integral to the film's success.
But all of these suppositions were lies. Contemptible lies. Jacked Up is nothing more than an after school special about the dangers of street gangs, gussied up with hip-hop beats and an incredibly holier than thou attitude. That which it claims to condemn, it actually glamorizes (i.e. violence) making it a plot necessity for solving problems. The court has no choice but to impose the maximum sentence for several, very valid and senselessly brutal acts of cinematic battery.
GUILTY as to COUNT 1: VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT CHARACTERIZATION
The characters, as written, are empty voids, functioning without personalities, only present in the film to serve the machinations of the plot. Only Stephanie, the shy four-eyed ugly duckling gets to make a jarringly unrealistic shift from low self-esteem doormat to booty call girl in tight sweaters, but it is more of a costuming, not an internal change.
GUILTY as to COUNT 2: INEPT DIRECTING
Long tedious takes of characters making phone calls. Insufferable overhead shots of the hero lying in bed, ceiling fan blades obstructing the image every two seconds. Hilariously clumsy dream sequences. Goofy gansta' histrionics. Director Timothy Wayne Folsome shows that he doesn't know when to yell "cut," how to control useless visual tricks, or properly pace scenes to maximize, not undermine dramatic tension.
GUILTY as to COUNT 3: SANCTIMONIOUS SCRIPTING
Jacked Up has no dialogue, only diatribes. Every line is either moralizing, sermonizing, or an outtake from a bad urban motivational speaker's spiel. The audience is the nail here, and the actors/filmmakers are the hammer, driving the point home over and over and over again. It leaves one feeling tired, and itching to rebel against the very values the films constantly reiterates.
GUILTY as to COUNT 4: WASTING TALENTED ACTORS AND PERFORMANCES
While all the performances here are fine, if a bit too mannered at times (especially Bizzy Bone who plays Zachariah like a flaming thug pimp with a faux macho drag queen's voice) the film gives them little to do except run, gun, bleed, plead, bitch and moan. The seemingly talented cast are nothing more than pawns in a director's flawed vision.
GUILTY as to COUNT 5: FAILING TO PRACTICE WHAT IT PREACHES
This movie glamorizes violence, instead of showing the TRUE impact of brutality. It relies consistently on killing off characters to solve problems and advance the plot. The director should have stayed with the carjacking, and focused substantively on its aftermath (the police, the family, the killer's life) instead of throwing in all the unnecessary Scarface/gangland style shoot 'em up crap.
GUILTY as to COUNT 6: ABYSMAL PLOTTING
When it gets right down to it, this movie has a dreadful story arch. After the events of the first ten minutes, the main story is over (and its final outcome pretty clear). During the next, weird guilt stalking section, the character motivations are ill-defined, so when our male Mary Poppins makes good things happen for the victims, we pray the two tales never intersect. And then they do, and the payoff is atrocious. (See Count 7)
GUILTY as to COUNT 7: HORRIBLE "TOO CLEAN" WRAP UP
Nothing bad happens in the end. There has been murder, deception, lies, failed trust and broken hearts, and yet everyone goes off and has a wonderful, productive, non-impacted life. Aside from a temporary trip to the big house, no one becomes homeless, crazy or racked with despair. This "happy" conclusion nullifies the previous ninety minutes, or worse, raises questions about responsibility and rehabilitation that the film never even began to address.
GUILTY as to COUNT 8: SHOCKINGLY BAD POST-PRODUCTION WORK
The continuity is erratic, with exact times confused or jumbled. The editing creates a languid feel to what is supposed to be an intense drama. Sound effects are inappropriate and overblown. But the worst offense is in the looping. You can hear the difference in line readings between on-set and in studio, and it emphasizes the amateur nature of the production.
GUILTY as to COUNT 9: HIDEOUS DVD IMAGE TRANSFER
Artisan, the accomplish in shame, has decided to release this DVD in a horrible, compression and defect filled transfer travesty that accentuates the no budget qualities of the film, and the undermines any possible cinematic pleasure one could derive. No question, the image is very, very bad.
GUILTY as to COUNT 10: LACKLUSTER EXTRAS AND COMMENTARY TRACK
The trailer is too short, the galleries and biographies too vague, and while advertising a behind the scenes featurette on the package, the judge could not locate it on the DVD menu or in the chapter breaks. As for the commentary, unless you consider the ins and outs of how cold it got, the search for a missing door, or how to hit up NFL ball players for financing, you will learn virtually nothing about how this film was made.
In a way, the court does regret one thing. It regrets that other independent filmmakers with vision and heart for their subject matter may see something like Jacked Up and feel a sense of accomplishment, an acknowledgment that they too can succeed in placing their ambitions on the screen for all to see. And the court does take it for granted that no one involved in Jacked Up set out to purposely make a mediocre, nay, dreadful movie. But when the facts are laid bare, and the totals tallied, Jacked Up cannot persuade this court to rule in any other fashion. Nothing is more depressing than a wasted opportunity. Jacked Up so squanders its chances that no amount of Prozac could bring you back.
Review content copyright © 2002 Bill Gibron; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Audio Commentary with Filmmakers
* Biographies and Filmographies of Cast and Filmmakers
* Theatrical Trailers
* Photo Gallery
* Behind the Scenes Featurette