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"The Wood"

Directed by Rick Famujiwa.
Written by Rick Famujiwa.
Starring Omar Epps, Taye Diggs and Richard T. Jones.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  7/18/99


If you guys out there were looking for the female version of "Waiting to Exhale", this movie is it.  This is the story of three close friends that spend much of their last three hours together as all-single men reminiscing about the old junior high days when they first met.  Me, I like male bonding stories, and this one is pretty funny in the way it looks at talking to girls and discovering the ways of women from the adolescent point-of-view.  You know, 12 men, one boat--what could be better?

Omar Epps (most recently, "The Mod Squad"), Taye Diggs ("How Stella Got Her Groove Back"), and Richard T. Jones star as the three adults that think back to their glory days while trying to sober Rolen (Diggs) up in time for his wedding.  These three guys are all real cool, and, in the poetic words of Claudia "Boxers" Hanna, all have real nice asses, which are on full display late in this film.  While all of the leads are very good, they are not in as many scenes as young Mike, the adolescent Epps character (played well by Sean Nelson).  So, both Claudia and I thought that the flick could have used a lot more of Slim (Jones), but there's just not enough time to get him screen time.

On the flip side, I thought that some of the adolescent scenes, while often very funny, dragged on a bit too long.  And again, I'm not really sure why the director chose to follow young Mike around more than the other two characters, especially since this is supposed to be an ensemble piece.  But, I loved the dance scenes with Mike, and Mike's first lay with the hottest girl in his class was funny, too.

The positives:  strong adult lead characters, the 1986 rap soundtrack (the more Eric B. & Rakim, the better), good warm laughs at the way the three young characters try to "score" during their booty bet.

The negatives:  running time is a bit too long; there were a couple of times when Claudia and I were looking at our watches.  Not enough of adult Slim, sappy ending.

Overall, though, a good date movie and a great family movie, but still cool enough for peeps to go check out in groups.  And, it's so lite that you almost forget you saw it about three hours later.

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