Movie Review: Misguided comedy ‘Meet The Blacks’ strange enough to watch once
Seeing “Meet the Blacks” in a theater was an odd experience, because it feels like something the general public wasn’t meant to see. It’s like a home movie starring a couple of D-list celebrities that somebody’s disgruntled personal assistant uploaded to Youtube or the outtakes from a real movie that were cobbled together to take the film-like form of a hidden DVD extra.
It’s a movie whose very existence is puzzling. To start with, “Meet the Blacks” is kind of a parody of “The Purge” franchise which is strange in and of itself, because I didn’t think the “The Purge” series had enough cultural cachet to warrant a parody film. But it’s also not quite a parody film. Mercifully, it doesn’t call itself “The Binge” and there seems to be a genuine attempt to place it within the confines of the Purge-i-verse.
It’s baffling. Frequently playing as if it was a “Purge” fan film based on a particularly weak skit from a late period De La Soul album, “Meet the Blacks” is a chore to sit through but also weird enough to be rewarding on some strange level. Unlike most of the movies I endure on a weekly basis, I didn’t regret watching this.
Immediately setting the surreal tone, “Meet the Blacks” opens with Snoop Dogg (in whiteface) recapping the premise of “The Purge” – one night a year all of the laws are suspended and government mandated anarchy reigns supreme for twelve hours – as he urges all white people to just get out there and murder up a storm. Why this opens the film is unclear considering that it’s followed by a vaguely animated opening credits sequence that merely repeats what Snoop Dogg told us less than a minute ago.
But as the film needlessly re-explains what the Purge is — and get used to hearing that word because you’ll be hearing it a lot. The phrase ‘the purge’ wasn’t said as much in all three “Purge” movies — we also get a convoluted info dump involving a shady electrician named Karl Black — Mike Epps who plays his character with the hostile indifference of somebody who was forced to work a four hour shift on their day off — who packs up his family and moves to Beverly Hills after he rips-off a Chicago drug-lord (Charlie Murphy). Of course once Karl and his family are settled in at his new Beverly Hills home, they’re condescended to and marginalized by their wealthy white neighbors who can’t wait to use the Purge as an excuse to eliminate this new “urban” element in their neighborhood.
Admittedly, this is a pretty ballsy concept and if the film simply focused on this idea, “Meet the Blacks” could have been a pretty scathing satire of race relations in America. Unfortunately, the movie muddles the concept by turning Carl into an asshole who isn’t just hounded by his lily white neighbors, but also his friends and enemies from Chicago. Seeing Carl gain the upper hand over a racist in a George W. Bush mask — Yeah, “Meet the Blacks” isn’t what you’d call subtle. But then, neither was “The Purge” — is satisfying. Seeing him murder the likes of Lavell Crawford and former TLC member Tameka ‘Tiny’ Cottle is less so.
Yet as bad and as confused as “Meet the Blacks” can be, it’s also very strange. Cartoon sound effects follow limp punchlines like a laughtrack on a sitcom. A lot of gags revolve around most of the cast members’ resemblance to other celebrities. A sexual predator is depicted as a lovable mischief maker. Jason Vorhees appears without warning or a purpose. However, to be fair, some of the absurdity in ‘Meet the Blacks” isn’t there because of pure, buck-ass incompetence. Sometimes it’s intentional, such as the fact that characters refer to Carl’s son, who also believes he’s a vampire, as Carl’s Junior or the revelation that Murphy is mostly upset with Carl not because he ran off with his money and weed supply, but because he stole his space heater and a toilet seat.
Weirder still are the selection of cameos that include former dick sketch artist Perez Hilton, Richard Pryor’s gag writer Paul Mooney as a foul-mouthed Klansman and inexplicably, Mike Tyson as an embittered bouncy house salesman named James Clown. Terrible and mostly unfunny, “Meet the Blacks” is, however, misguided enough to watch at least once. Recommended. Kind of. But not really.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
“Meet The Blacks”
Starring: Mike Epps, Zulay Henao, Alex Henderson
Director: Deon Taylor
Weekender Rating: WWV
Length: 94 minutes