Film Scouts Reviews


by Karen Jaehne

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Meet Woo. She's a perfect size 4, got a smile that'll get her in trouble for the next 30 years, and likes to party. Playing her is Jada Pinkett Smith - cute as a button, too cool to have brains. She's like a landmine waiting to trip. And "trip" is the word used in Woo's world for what they do, while messing with people's hearts, minds, and any other body parts you care to throw into the mix.

As a film, the movie is a delightful mess. Utterly without pretension, totally into itself and its own sense of outrage, the story rambles through a series of parties where Woo gets to épater the bourgoisie. And the black bourgoisie is the victim of choice. Or buppies, as they're affectionately called.

What I find most interesting about this is that, while every other black stereotype is invoked and provoked and poked at, the one word never used is "buppie." We're not so sensitive as to avoid the N word or anti-feminist tirades at overweight women. No, everything in black culture seems up for grabs - just as it always was on In Living Color at its very best. So, like the dog that didn't bark, the buppie calls attention to itself.

The boy whom Woo is driving crazy is played by In Living Color veteran Tommy Davidson as a geek. Or maybe, just too middle-class, too upwardly mobile. With his ambitions to be a lawyer, he's the kind of guy who asks before kissing, speaks respectfully of women in their presence - when his three homies are rude and unscrewed and convinced that Woo is a ho' - and we don't mean what Santa says.

Woo is so outraged with men in general that she seems to take on this particular one, Tommy Davidson, as a case study in temporary sanity - that she will dislodge. His is the epitome of everything that Woo finds dull. Woo is there to wake him up. To dance. To sex. To himself. To black culture, although that is clearly between the lines.

There are so many racist things in this picture, you just keep saying, there goes another totem. And another taboo's up in smoke! It's purposefully entertainingly, politically - don't forget grammatically - incorrect.

Woo is the outrageous, wonderful gal who is always one step ahead of her guy. Even though she gets all her kicks at the expense of other people - even at the expense of Tommy Davidson's dignity - she is the fresh air. She may have to huff and puff through some of the very predictable scenes, but Jada Pinkett Smith is so happy to make us happy and so caught up in the fun of it all, you've got to follow. Or stay home, study for your law exams and miss the boat.

Too many Woos could mean no more Johnny Cochrans. Grab that girl. Hold her down! Oops, got away. And careening out of control, Woo wins!

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