Judge Mitchell Hattaway sees Usher as the newest star in the constellation of great musicians turned thespians that includes Mariah Carey, Peter Frampton, and the Village People.
Everyone wants a piece of his action.
Facts of the Case
Hot New York DJ Darrell (Usher Raymond, Texas Rangers) spends his nights spinning records at his club and his days renovating a recording studio. All Darrell wants to do is his get his music label off the ground, but his life is thrown for a loop when he takes a bullet for a mafia boss named Frank (Chazz Palminteri, Down to Earth). Frank, fearing that his enemies won't stop gunning for him and his family until they are all dead, orders one of his men to watch over Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui, On the Line), his twentysomething daughter; Dolly balks at the idea of having one of her father's hired goons accompany her everywhere she goes, so Frank tells her to pick her own bodyguard. Whom does she pick? Darrell, of course. Want to guess what happens next?
I pity poor Ron Underwood. The guy used to make good movies (Tremors and City Slickers come to mind), but of late he seems to be stuck directing underperforming, misguided star vehicles (The Adventures of Pluto Nash comes to mind). In the Mix definitely falls into the latter category. Intended to be a showcase for its star/co-executive producer, this blink-and-you-missed-it box office dud just goes to show that some people—especially those dumb enough to sleep around on TLC's Chilli—shouldn't quit their day jobs (although I wouldn't mind if Usher also dropped out of the music business). And this movie isn't a star vehicle inasmuch as it is a vanity piece (Barbra Streisand would be proud). It's clearly contrived to give Usher as many opportunities to flash his smile, remove his shirt, show off his dance moves, and exhibit his skills with the ladies as is humanly possible. Too bad for him he's not much of a leading man. In fact, in the hierarchy of leading men, I'd say Usher ranks somewhere below Hercules in New York costar Arnold Stang. Given how this movie turned out, it will be at least ten years before Usher is given another chance to headline a movie. If so, it will be ten years too soon.
It took four writers to concoct this piece of nonsense (three for the story, one for the screenplay), and they threw in enough clichés and stereotypes to fill the Albert Hall. Wisecracking sidekick? Check. Precocious kid neighbor? Check. Farting dog? Check. White guy who wants to be black and speaks in slang so unintelligible that the black characters constantly tell him they have no idea what he's saying? Check. An older, rotund black woman who tells the young white girl she needs to pack some pounds onto her ass? Check. An Italian guy named Fat Tony? Check. A poker game in which the only female player manages to bluff the seemingly more experienced male players? Check. You want artificial situations and actions by the characters that make absolutely no sense and only serve to pad out the running time? You'll find plenty of those as well. Why does Frank, who treats Darrell as if he were his own son, get so upset when he finds out that Darrell and Dolly are romantically involved? When one of her father's hired goons pulls a gun on Darrell and Dolly in the club, why doesn't Dolly run to her father and tell him? Why is no one able to figure out that one of Frank's hired goons (see the previous sentence as to which hired goon) was behind the botched hit, especially after they discover the body of a rival mobster in the trunk of one of Frank's Cadillacs? Why would a woman who throws herself at a man she barely knows, then accompanies him home with the express intent of sleeping with him, get upset and leave when she finds out he's a player? How is Darrell able to outrun a bullet fired from an assault rifle? Better yet, how is Darrell able to recover from being seriously wounded by a bullet fired from an assault rifle in less time than it takes most people to get over a cold? Why am I going on and on about such things after I've repeatedly vowed to stop wasting my time trying to think logically about movies of this caliber? Will I ever stop using that line to get myself out of these situations?
The movie's a failure, but the technical presentation certainly isn't. The transfer is aces; there is a dark, earthy, rich look to Clark Mathis's cinematography, and that look is captured nigh-on flawlessly. The 5.1 soundtrack is booming and immersive during the many songs and club scenes; dialogue is always intelligible. My only problem with the track is that on occasion it can be a little too restrained; opportunities to make use of the entire soundstage are squandered a few too many times, most notably during the final shootout. Extras include several previews for other Lionsgate releases, three deleted scenes, and a short featurette in which the cast and crew discuss how they had to rush to complete principal photography in twenty-five days because Usher was headed off to Europe to tour (meaning the union guys were the only people to benefit from this turkey).
The Rebuttal Witnesses
James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" pops up on the soundtrack. That's never a bad thing.
If I were twelve, a girl, and an idiot, this would be the greatest movie ever made. Thing is, I'm none of these things (although the idiot part is quite often debatable), so I liken watching this movie to having a colonoscopy without an anesthetic.
Guilty, guilty, guilty.
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