Tag Archives: regina hall

SHAFT (2019) – My rating: 7/10

Shaft is an action-comedy directed by Tim Story and written by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow. Unlike its predecessor, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, this film is produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the fifth film in the Shaft film series and a sequel to the 2000 film with the same title. Given the last version of Shaft, I didn’t expect too much from this version — however, it ended up being pretty decent and pretty funny.

The film starts in 1989, John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson), his wife Maya Babanikos (Regina Hall) and their infant son, John “JJ” Shaft Jr., survives an assassination attempt by druglord, Pierro “Gordito” Carrera (Isaach de Bankolé). Concerned Shaft’s lifestyle would expose them to even more danger, Maya thought it best to leave her husband and raise their son on her own. 25 years later,  JJ (Jessie Usher) is a grown man with a degree from MIT.  He has just landed a position as a cybersecurity expert with the FBI.

After JJ’s childhood friend, Karim (Avan Jogia), dies a suspicious death, JJ concludes he must have been murdered, so he travels to Harlem to investigate further. The drug dealer who runs the neighborhood and sold the heroin that allegedly killed Karim, has JJ violently ejected from his property. While recovering in the hospital, another childhood friend, who is a nurse, Sasha (Alexandra Shipp) reads Karim’s toxicology report and realizes that the amount of heroin in Karim’s system would have killed him long before he could take that much by himself, providing proof he was murdered. With no other recourse, JJ turns to his father, John Shaft II, who is a private investigator, for assistance. Shaft agrees to help after realizing that JJ’s case may lead him to Gordito, who he has been holding a vendetta against for years. The two begin investigating together, but JJ’s progressive white-collar outlook on life clashes with Shaft’s old-school street ways. After confronting Manuel Orozco (Ian Casselberry) again, Shafts investigates “Brothers Watching Brothers”, the drug rehab clinic Karim was a part of. There they learn that Karim stopped going to rehab in favor of attending services at a mosque, currently under suspicion by the FBI for terrorism.

Apparently, this version of Shaft was the better of the two versions featuring Samuel L. Jackson.  Some of the jokes were really funny.  The plot was somewhat predictable but made sense.  The story goes into Shaft’s raunchy lifestyle of women, booze, drugs and violence.  For the most part, the acting was good however, Jessie Usher could use a bit more polishing.  As usual, any movie with Samuel Jackson has way too much profanity.  Shaft was no exception to the amount of bad language throughout the film.  Also, the use of the “N” word was excessive.  I understand in that space and time, the “N” word was considered only semi quasi bad, however, I could have done without it.  Shaft will probably be offensive to some and some will be okay with the verbiage.  The original Shaft Sr. (Richard Roundtree) was a nice touch to end the movie, however, I would wait for the DVD or skip it altogether.  Shaft received mixed reviews from critics, but positive responses from audiences and has grossed $17 million. Check It Out if you dare!

 

LITTLE (2019) – My rating: 7.5/10


Little is a fantasy comedy, co-written and directed by Tina Gordon. It follows an overbearing boss who is transformed into the child version of herself. Martin, who serves as an executive producer on the project, at 14 years old, becoming the youngest person to ever hold the title on a Hollywood production. I was really anxious to see Little but I was slightly disappointed. The story could have covered more of her adult life and the overall movie could have been a little funnier.

Little opens with 13 year old Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin) being bullied at her middle school talent show by Caren Green (Eva Carlton) and her friends who turned Jordan’s daring demo into a wrecking ball experience. As a result, Jordan landed in the hospital with broken limbs. Being bullied throughout her childhood, caused Jordan become a ruthless tech mogul as a grown-up. Scene after scene shows a grown Jordan (Regina Hall) as an evil, demanding, rich tycoon, entrepreneur who takes advantage of all her employees and anyone else who gets in her way. She is especially mean to her assistant, April Williams (Issa Rae), who has talent and wants to be more than an assistant.

Jordan owns JSL, a tech company that develops and sells software applications to other firms. When her biggest client, Connor (Mikey Day) shows up unannounced, Jordan suddenly calms herself long enough to meet and greet him, then finds out she has 48 hours to pitch an application that will knock Connor’s socks off or he’s dropping her company. Once Connor leaves, she demands a staff meeting of her developers and demands they come up with something to save the company or walk the unemployment line. During the meeting Jordan continues to bully her staff, calling them names and humiliating every employee individually. April who is encouraged by her colleague, Preston (Tone Bell) tries to make her talent known. She speaks up at the meeting stating she has her own pitch, only to get shot down by Jordan who essentially told April to stay in her place, as an assistant. While in the lobby of her office building, Jordan continues to insult people while physically pushing them around until a little girl, Stevie (Marley Taylor) called her out on being so mean. Stevie gets so angry, she pulls out her toy ward, waves it directly at Jordan and says “I wish you were little”. At that moment, Jordan becomes frail, stumbling to and fro then ask “what just happened?” She recovers and orders everyone to get back to work.

Jordan wakes up the next day in her lavage apartment as her old 13 year old self. She is fully dressed, leaving for work when she discovers her clothes are too big and people are asking “who are you”? She looks in the mirror and sees her former childhood self. Of course, she calls her assistant to help her figure out what’s going on and how to fix it. From this point on, Jordan gets the chance to relive the life of her younger self at a time when the pressures of adulthood become too much for her to bear.

In my opinion, Little is a comedy that could have had many more laughs than it did. The critics praised the performances but called it “a bit safer and lighter on laughs than many would like”. Lack of belly aching laughs aside, the acting is brilliant, just not enough Regina Hall. Marcia Martin and Issa Rae stole the show.  Jordan goes back to school and encounters the same bullies but finds a few friends who she actually helps. Little covers a lot of territory and there are some heartfelt moments. So, does Jordan learn a lesson or does she remain a horrible bully? Does April get that big promotion she’s been looking for? Does Jordan meet the 48 hour deadline and get to keep her company? Do either April or Jordan find love? You’ll have to see the movie to get the answers. I think Little is definitely worth seeing. Not only does Marsai Martin star in Little, she is also an executive producer, having come up with the idea for Little when she was 10. Martin is the youngest person to ever have an executive producer credit on a Hollywood wide release.  Check It Out!

 

THE HATE U GIVE (2018) – My rating: 10/10

The Hate U Give is a drama directed by George Tillman Jr. and written by Audrey Wells. It is based on Angie Thomas’ 2017 novel of same name.  The Hate U Give focuses on racism and the numerous shootings of young Black unarmed men by White cops.  The plot follows the fallout after a high school student witnesses a police shooting and is easily one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is a young high school student who tries to live a normal life in the suburb of an all-black district of Garden Heights, with her family. Starr’s mother, Lisa Carter (Regina Hall) and father, Maverick Carter (Russell Hornsby) sacrificed to send her and her half brother, Seven Carterto (Lamar Johnson) to Williamson High, a predominately White private school in a White neighborhood, to avoid the downfalls of a ghetto school and a ghetto neighborhood. Starr is quite popular among the students and has several White girlfriends, Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter) and Maya (Megan Lawless) are among her prep school friends, which also includes a White boyfriend named Chris (KJ Apa).

One night, Starr attends a local house party and runs into her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith). A brawl breaks out and shots are fired, so Khalil and Starr flee the party in his car. While driving Starr home, Khalil is pulled over by a police officer. In an unforgettable turn of events, Khalil is gunned down and shot dead in front of a horrified Starr, when the policeman mistakenly thinks Khalil is a criminal who was reaching for a gun that turned out to be a hairbrush.

Later, Starr is approached by an activist, April Ofrah (Issa Rae) who tries to get Starr to speak her truth to the media and the neighborhood. To complicate matters, Starr’s uncle Carlos (Common) is a police officer and King (Anthony Mackie) a local drug dealer who employed Khalil and is also Seven’s half sister’s Kenya (Dominique Fishback) father. In the aftermath of his death and funeral, citizens all over the city begin to demand justice leaving the traumatized but courageous Starr to find her voice and speak the truth about what happened the night of the shooting.  Starr was concerned that the students at her school would single her out as a “poor Black kid” from the ghetto and feel pity while adopting a “hands-off” approach.  Confused and angry, Starr eventually finds her footing and her truth. The back story regarding King, the neighborhood drug dealer is a little ify, in my opinion, but can easily be over looked.

The Hate You Give was so touching, I was not able to withhold my emotions, causing me to sob at the mere idea of an innocent person of any color being shot several times by a frightened cop.  The story was told in such a way that it truly gets under your skin. Amandla Stenberg’s performance was flawless. I love the way the officer was portrayed as he makes a traffic stop displaying his over the top nervousness which in my opinion, is the reason rookie or improperly trained police should not be assigned to the streets. They appear to be so afraid of getting shot they cannot think straight. Maybe all police should wear bullet proof vest. Injustice on all sides are brilliantly addressed in The Hate You Give, making it one of the most powerful films to come along in quite some time. Excellent movie — check it out!

GIRLS TRIP (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Girls Trip is a Black, raunchy girl bonding “Hangover” knockoff (sort of) farce, only this time they got it right.  With an all-star cast and a rock solid story involving each character’s personal ups and downs, Girls Trip is a hit.  An American comedy directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, who based the script on their own experiences involving four female college friends who meet up for the first time in five years to go to New Orleans to attend the Essence Music Festival in order to reconnect and rekindle their sisterhood and wild sides.  There are several nights of partying, hook-ups and bad decisions, as well as raw and vulnerable moments that strengthen their bond.

Below are character definitions rather than a synopsis of the film because it would be too hard not to spoil the very funny scenes and setups. For the most part, I enjoyed the movie and think you should check it out as well.  Not for anyone under 18.

Dina (Tiffany Haddish) is foul-mouthed, funny wild and an abrasive woman with an unmanageable temper that gets her into lots of trouble.  In real life she’s a standup comic known for her raunchy comedy routines (like the one in Girls Trip about farting during doggie style sex).

Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) is a successful career-obsessed, self-help author who is married to a not so loyal, successful man, who she can’t seem to break away from.  Ryan, otherwise seems level headed and in control of her life and business.  She has no children but would love to have some.

Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah) is a gossip magazine blogger who gave up her real dream of being an accomplished editor/reporter as a trade-off for fast money, which she needed, since she didn’t have the financial means to do otherwise.

Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith) became a housewife and overly prudish, single mother devoted to her two boys with no life for herself.  Edged on by her sisterhood, Lisa displayed her wild side during Girls Trip, stealing some of the funniest scenes of the movie.

Elizabeth Davelli (Kate Walsh) is the only white member of the crew and is Ryan’s oversexed manager / agent who made many bad decisions that lead to lots of laughs.

Stewart Pierce (Mike Colter) as the philandering husband in business with his wife, Ryan.

Malik (Kofi Siriboe) is a dark, handsome love interest for Lisa who had some of the funniest scenes in the film.

Julian Stevens (Larenz Tate) is a band member and former class mate of Ryan’s from college as well as a potential future love interest for Ryan.

Expect to see appearances by Mariah Carey, Ne-Yo, Faith Evans, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Dennis, MC Lyte, New Edition, Common, Estelle and Beyoncé as themselves.

 

BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT (2016) My rating: 7.5/10

Barbershop-TheNextCutBarbershop: The Next Cut is a comedy with a profound message. A third sequel to the barbershop series tries to send a message about the senseless killings of our youth in our communities who are too often  hit by stray bullets intended for those involved in gang activity. Children are being killed so often, this Chicago neighborhood is trying to come up with a solution that can be implemented quick and easy. Calvin Palmer (Ice Cube) and his wife Jennifer Palmer (Jazsmin Lewis) are watching their son Jalen (Michael Rainey, Jr.) change from a sweet loving kid to a hard headed rebellious type that is staring to head down the wrong path. Calvin and Jennifer, being in denial, is blaming their son’s new attitude on his current buddy, Kenny (Diallo Thompson) who is the son of Rashad Jones (Common), Calvin’s best friend. In the meanwhile, gangs are running rampart in the Chicago neighborhood and more youths are getting killed in the crossfire and recruited by these gangs. One-Stop, (J.B. Smoove) a hustler who sells real estate among his many other talents, works in Calvin’s barbershop, which is now co-ed as the barbershop is also a beauty salon with Angie (Regina Hall as Calvin’s partner. Calvin is entertaining the idea of moving to the north side of town where it is safer to raise his son and operate his shop. The usual gang is back in session with Terri  Jones (Eve) as Common’s wife, Draya (Nicki Minaj) as a hair stylist and over sexed trouble maker, Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer) as the oldest barber, J.D. (Anthony Anderson) as the caterer, Raja (Utkarsh Ambudkar) as the Black Indian barber, Jimmy James (Sean Patrick Thomas) as the Congressman and Isaac (Troy Garity) as the over-the-top White boy player. New comer Jerrod, (Lamorne Morris) who comes off as a gay guy and Bree, (Margot Bingham) a hair stylist become love interest for each other, despite the gay rumors. The overall goal of the Barbershop is to force a cease fire among the gangs, causing peace and trust and most of all, no killings of youth for days at a time, in exchange for free services offered by the barbershop/hair salon during the cease fire. Of course there’s much more to this so you will have to see the film to find out how it all works out.

Barbershop is a little corny but sends an excellent message and is well acted as well as entertaining. It’s been in the queue for several weeks, which tells me that it’s worth seeing. Also, a couple of fun surprises were incorporated into the ending so check it out!  I enjoyed it.

THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (2014) – My rating: 7/10

ThinkLikeAManTooI was disappointed in Think Like A Man Too!  It was too slap stick for me.  Kevin Hart’s rantings really got on my nerves.  If he had toned his character down some, it would have been a different ballgame.  It seems like the director tried to steal a page from” Hang Over 3″ and “Last Vegas” with an over the top chain of funny events in “Sin City”.  Both movies were better than Think Like a Man Too.  There were some funny parts, but not funny enough to spend the price of a movie ticket to see it.  The plot was okay but the craziness that followed was just plain stupid.  What a waste of talent.  You would think with this star studded cast, you’d get a pretty good movie, NOT!  I even resented some of the insinuations because Think Like a Man Too crossed the line in ethic jokes.  I don’t like any race of people to be the brunt of  bad jokes or bad dialogue.

One of the couples from Think Like a Man Too is getting married.  Kevin Hart is (erroneously) the best man.  While he thinks he’s the best man for the job, he ends up being the worse.  5 couples make up the wedding party accompanied by an over bearing, control freak mom who doesn’t think the bride is good enough for her son.  The problems begin with each gender’s expectations of the bachelor and bachelorette parties, respectively.  Other problems include a reservation misunderstanding, the grooms mother and one couple’s dedication to their jobs.  If you can get through Kevin Hart’s rantings, you might enjoy the rest of the cast that includes: Michael Ealy (Dominic), Jerry Ferrara (Jeremy), Meagan Good (Mya), Regina Hall (Candace), Dennis Haysbert (Uncle Eddie), Taraji P. Henson (Lauren), Terrence Jenkins (Michael), Jenifer Lewis (Loretta), Romany Malco (Zeke), Gabrielle Union (Kristen), Kevin Hart (Cedric), Gary Owen (Bennett) and Caleel Harris (Duke).  My recommendation is wait for the DVD which releases on 9/16/14.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT (2014) – My rating: 7.5/10

AboutLastNightMy past experiences with Kevin Hart movies and comedy spots left me feeling that Kevin Hart wasn’t very funny, despite the “funniest Man Alive” title placed on his name.  I don’t like comedians who cannot do their routines without creating the dirtiest, foul material available.  Today I saw “About Last Night” and suddenly saw the humor.  Kevin along with Michael Ealy was totally funny in this cutesy, “I don’t want to commit to a relationship” movie.   Although there was plenty of foul language, it wasn’t over the top.  After all, this is an adult movie.  Paula Patton makes a cameo but profound appearance.  I believe the plot was pretty true to life.  There were a few bloopers that I cannot reveal because it would be a spoiler.  All the women in this film were eye candy.  Kevin and Regina Hall became a wild, eccentric couple while Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant, better known for her role as Jasmine Trussell on Parenthood, teamed up as a “normal” couple, looking for love.  Watching the two couples come together was hilarious and quite entertaining.  I recommend seeing About Last Night, especially if you need a pick me up.