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"In Too Deep"

Directed by Michael Rymer.
Written by Michael Henry Brown and Paul Aaron.
Starring Omar Epps and LL Cool J.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  8/25/99 


Let's cut right to it:  "In Too Deep" stars Omar Epps as a Cincinnati cop that tries to infiltrate a drug-running gang of thugs led by a guy who actually calls himself God--LL Cool J!  That's right:  Ladies Love Cool James as a murderous crack dealer!  After playing the chef in "Deep Blue Sea", Hollywood's next Will Smith is back again.

Now, here's my big beef with this movie, and maybe you can help me out here:  is there only one way to do an undercover cop movie?  "Kickass" Simon and I did some talking after the movie was over, and we decided that "Deep Cover", with Larry Fishburne (before the Laurence days) and Jeff Goldblum, was one of our favorites.  "Donnie Brasco" was also thrown in for good measure.  But even these two classics have all of the same undercover clichés:  brooding wife/girlfriend that is afraid that one day, they are going to read about their sig other in the newspaper; scenes of temporary insanity on behalf of the cop, who is so into character that they are having a hard time differentiating between good and evil; the sergeant on the squad who is the cop's primary contact saying "We've got to get you outta there--you're in too deep!"; and of course, incessant amounts of important--and, for that matter, non-important--characters saying to the cop:

"Are you a cop?"

This is the funniest bit to me, because it doesn't matter how many movies I've seen, or how I envision being undercover and having someone ask me, "Are you a cop?"--it's all the same:  I don't buy it for a second.  And there are so many colorful iterations to it:

  • "What are you, some kinda cop?"

  • "Hey, is he 5-oh?"

  • "Shit man, he smells like a cop to me!"

  • "You look kind of nervous, man...are you a cop?"

But, maybe that's how it really is, and I need to go undercover one of these days.


Sorry.  The movie is pretty middle-of-the-road, but Epps redeems himself here after lounging through "The Mod Squad" by really getting into some seriously run-of-the-mill material.  And somebody in the production decided that it would be good if Epps had a really bad 'do for half the film, which brought out laughs from many of the people in the audience.  And LL:  I think his character's biggest problem is that he looks so good.  I admit that LL looks pretty smooth here, but that works against him when he is using a pool cue to...umm, maybe I won't mention that here.  Basically, he has to beat the hell out of some people in this movie, and watching the guy who did "Doin' It" throw guys across a car doesn't gibe.  He *smiles* too much for a guy who runs 80% of the drug trade in Cincinnati.  Nia Long is mostly wasted here as Epps' model/dancer/girlfriend (ex:  "Two people can be in love with each other, but that doesn't mean they will spend their life together", "I don't date people in my nude modeling class" and similar such rubbish) and Stanley Tucci shows roughly one emotion as the emotionless contact for Epps throughout the movie.  Pam Grier, clearly not enjoying the post-"Jackie Brown" scripts that she has been offered, shows up for an almost-meaningless part here.  But, in the casting move of the year, Jermaine Dupri gets totally f----- up in a fight scene.  Man, do I hate JD!

Hmm.  While it was a good time, I realized after the movie was over that "In Too Deep" was only half full.  I had higher expectations, but it did a reasonable job of entertaining.  And, the music's good.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09