Saturday 5 April 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 review – Number 91 In the Mix

Often we see recording artists attempt an acting career. Rarer than that, we see actors try putting out an album. In many of both cases, somebody somewhere in the process should've said no, before the fan was completely covered in shit. Tonight's movie sees Usher make the attempt to break over, with unforeseen consequences, in...

The movie is so bland and standard even, that finding amusing screenshots proved difficult. 

In the Mix (2005)
In the Mix is basically the story of Darrell (Usher), a local New York DJ, dreaming of making it big, when one night he happens to save the life of Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), daughter of the mobster Frank (Chazz Palminteri). Because Chazz knew Darrell's father, and because Usher is just so durn likeable I guess, Frank appoints Darrell as Dolly's personal bodyguard. It's.. yeah.. that's pretty much it. Of course Frank is in hot waters with some of the other Mob bosses, due to the usual sleuth of mobstermovie bullshit. And so it is extra important that his family chills the fuck out, until things have quieted down. Dolly, obviously, is having none of thise, and does a lot of stereotypical irrational shit, that not only lands herself, but also Darrell, right squarely in Shit Creek. Turns out Darrell is a super good guy, however, and he manages to save the day, fall in love with Dolly AND take several bullets to the torso doing it. What a man!

Chazz looking like he's had just about enough. Sock 'im' Chazz. Sock 'im real good!

Ok, I might as well break this to you guys right off the proverbial bat: This movie is watchable. Yes, I said the unspeakable words. Words so burdened with expectations, that nobody reviewing B100 has dared utter them before. This movie, in spite of it's position on this list, and all people associated with the production of it, is actually watchable. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say enjoyable. The concept of the movie sounds extremely shallow, and by any stretch of the imagination, it was just that. But even so, it did have a certain appeal. I'll be the first to admit, that I haven't actually ever listened to any of Usher's music, so my prejudice regarding his performance in this movie was, as prejudices often if not always are, based on pretty much no empirical data. He struck me as the kind of guy I wouldn't like, based solely on his immediate resemblance to guys like Chris Brown and Kanye West. Not because they're all black (come on guys), but because those two dudes make some, in my opinion, horrendous music and generally act like they are the biggest douchenuggest to grace the face of our poor earth. Usher didn't turn in an Oscar worthy performance in In the Mix, hell he was hardly believable as it was. But he wasn't super aggravating either, which is a character trait we see a lot with these movies. So that, if nothing else, is a positive thing, isn't it? I think it is. If you also think that, super. If you, contrary to every law of nature, you should find yourself in disagreeance with me, well then that's just because you're a great big neenerhead.

Look at this fucking cornball. Man I hate the white guy acting gangster shit so much. Worst part of this movie, by far. 

On top of all that sweetness, the movie features an old fan favorite (providing the fan in question is me), Chazz Palminteri, who I for one have seen in countless other very decent (no sarcasm this time) movies, including, but definitely not limited to; The Usual Suspects and Mulholland Falls. He has that special quality, where he can both portray sleazy mobster dudes (in In the Mix he's not really sleazy, but I think you understand what I mean here (if you don't, stop reading now and scold yourself)), and good guys with hearts of the purest most cleanly polished gold. Like Usher, Chazz doesn't turn in a stellar performance, that simply floors you and makes you want to scream off of rooftops. You just contend yourself with thinking: Yeah Chazz.. you did what you could with the material you were provided.

Of course the crazy mobster dude is bald. They usually are. Chazz here seen rosing it up good and proper in the garden. 
We see a lot of the classic stereotypical characters in this movie. Mobsters, both the cold blooded ones, the jovial fat haha-those-crazy-italians type and the mob leader who is really a devoted father and an all around good guy except for the fact that he probably was directly involved in a 2 digits number of murders. That shit is often conveniently forgotten, but I guess it could actually be a more accurate reflection of real life. I mean, mobsters may have a gentle side to them too, who knows. Like Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition. He was really just a sweet and loving husband, who also happened to murder people left and right. I've had that happen in my life quite a few times too, and it's the kind of dad I aspire to be myself someday. Help my kids with homework, and 30 minutes later I am gunning down Irish immigrants with a tommy gun. Just another day in the life of an average mobster-dad.
Of course, no mafia movie would be complete without our oldest mafia actor dude, Robert Costanzo. Not only is he involved, in some way, in almost every movie that has to do with the Italian-American community. He is also involved in quite a few Bottom 100 movies. I remember him chiefly from two things: Joey's dad in F.R.I.E.N.D.S or some small role in an episode of Ally McBeal that I caught half of once, where he played a guy due in court who had a sweating problem. Ally and, whatever character Portia de Rossi played, dowsed him in some kind of anti-sweat powder to prevent his sweat from ruining their case. I can't tell you how that endeavor played out, because I watched something else instead. But Robert Costanzo made an impact. He was in Plump Fiction, obviously, in the Marcellus role. He's been around a long time. Like almost 40 years. So there's that too.

Chazz totally cooking it up, clichéed NYC mobster style. Just like in the movies. 

Summing it all up rather neatly, I think the main reason this movie is on the B100 list is the amount of clichés they've managed to cram in there. I mean, it's hard to avoid clichés from time to time, and the movies that seem to steer perfectly clear, are usually the ones hailed at awards shows or in the cult classic circles. In the Mix seems to actively seek the stereotypes out. Let's take a look at what we have here. Black guy in the music industry, rough childhood but heart of gold stays by himself, but lived with his grandmother and some kids that are a lot younger than him, begging the question: are these his kids or late coming younger siblings? That question, obviously, is never answered. Then we have the mobster slash worried parent, who cooks tomato sauce (really, is there any Italian immigrant that doesn't?), we have the supposedly Italian guy with a jewfro, acting all gangster. Of all the movie tropes, that one probably irks me the most. We see it also in Lucky Number Slevin, albeit with a twist that makes it somewhat bearable. Then there is the preppy Ivy League preppy boyfriend to some really hot girl, that is nice but kind of a douche, perfectly setting up Usher (in this case) for some interracial schmoochieschmoo. We have the smartass friend who is a comic relief (I had forgotten until I browsed through the movie for screenshots, but he is actually played by the, at that time, relatively unknown Kevin Hart. Kevin Hart has made something of a name for himself now, both as a stand up comedian (not terrible, but not Dave Chapelle either) and an actor (haven't seen many of his movies, but he did an amusing skit with Conan O'Brien and Ice Cube, that can be found here). I'd list more clichés, but I think the point is made. There are several more, and you'll just have to watch the movie yourself to find them. No, really. You should totally do that.

Overall, it's hard to really come right out and say this movie was excellent or really enjoyable. Like I mentioned, it wasn't completely shit, but it wasn't really that awesome either. You sit there watching, thinking that the choices made by each and every single character, is super weird. Kind of like watching The Following. Kevin Bacon is kind of cool, but every choice made by every character is just super irrational. It works in the show, kind of, if you are able to suspend your disbelief in a big fucking way. Obviously you need to straight up disable the part of your brain concerned with disbelief, to watch any of the movies in the Bottom 100. Most of these movies are ludicrously far out of the normal conceivability scope. This particular one was probably made, because Usher is kind of a big name, and he wanted to try his acting chops out. He seems like a likable dude, and the kind of dude that lots of feminines would probably not mind spending a few hours in the company of. But it still isn't quite enough, to accept, that a DJ from a random club is picked out as a bodyguard for a mobster's daughter. Just like that. 

Of course we gotta end the movie with a wedding. Why wouldn't we? it's cliché town, afterall. Population: us. 


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