Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Through With White Girls

I'm Through With White Girls, on the surface, seems to be a story filled with characters with racial identities that break stereotypes or fail to find a pigeon hole in any particular niche. Although this film is as much comedy as it is drama, the underlying story seems to be about finding your own identity and not changing yourself to fit somebody else's definition. The racial identity crises in this film provide the platform for interesting antics and fun word play.

Courtney Lilly has done some writing for television sitcoms, with I'm Through With White Girls standing as the only screenplay contribution. Lilly must have had fun preparing this script, which contains an interesting and eclectic array of characters with endless quirks. Although the dialogue is serious when it needs to be, Lilly maximizes the characters and situations to have fun with the dialogue. The exchanges were funny but still believable within the context that Lilly creates. Director Jennifer Sharp did an excellent job of bringing together Lilly's script with an excellent cast of characters to deliver a polished enjoyable film.

I'm Through With White Girls tells the story of a black bachelor, Jay Brooks (Anthony Montgomery), who has tastes that stereo-typically run white. Jay likes super heroes, indie rock and white girls. His string of bad luck with white girls (who he never really seems to be able to break up with...instead he sort of avoids them) leads to a mission known as "Operation Brown Sugar." Jay is convinced that he needs to meet a black woman in order to end his unlucky streak. An awkward beginning with an aspiring writer, Catherine Williamson (Lia Johnson) leads to the development of a promising relationship.

Jay seems unsure how to progress in his relationship with Catherine, who has her own race-defying quirks. Catherine is afraid of public speaking, due in large part to her valley girl accent. Jay acts supportive, but over analyzes his relationships, choosing not to read Catherine's book, in spite of his outward support for her. Jay's underlying problem stems from what seems to be a fear of commitment. As things take a serious turn it becomes too much for him and he tries to bail on the relationship before having a change of heart. However, Catherine discovers some things that Jay has been hiding and the cover up leads the two to part ways. Can Jay undo the damage? You'll just have to rent the movie to find out.

Lia Johnson was phenomenal. Her acting was credible, bringing broad dimensions to her unique character. Johnson completely sold her part. Montgomery had a "Raj" from "What's Happenin'" thing going on. It was a little distracting at first, because I kept expecting "Rerun" to show up and steal the scene. After getting past the "Raj" thing, I had to applaud Montgomery for his role as well. It has to be difficult to balance racial identity quirks with reality to deliver a character that does not become too cartoonish. Both actors sold their parts, creating balanced, deep individuals that had unique but credible traits. The two also had excellent chemistry. Jay's fried in the movie (Matt) was played by Ryan Alosio. His character also experienced some racial issues, but came across to me as a bit contrived. He was very "Vanilla Ice" in this film. Maybe it was intentional, but it seemed cheesy to me. The rest of the cast contained some well known actors and actresses (it took me a minute to place Johnny Brown, who played Bookman on "Good Times.") The supporting cast was superb.

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