I’ve never really said it, but I was always a Will Smith fan–at least as far as acting is concerned. I never bought, nor intended to buy one of his albums, even though he did have that one song I remember, Switch, that I thought was good, he always struck me as an actor, not a rapper, even though that was not his original intent either.
Let the record show, this $20 million dollar a movie man has produced a blockbuster hit movie EVERY single year, except 1994, without fail since his debut movie while he was still a Fresh Prince living in Bel Air.
- 1993 — “Six Degrees of Separation” and “Made In America”
- 1995 — “Bad Boys’
- 1996 — “Independence Day” (love interest of Vivica Fox)
- 1997 — “Men In Black”
- 1998 — “Enemy of The State” (co starred against black woman played by the lovely Regina King, now famous for the voices of Riley and Huey from the “Boondocks”)
- 1999 — “Wild Wild West”
- 2000 — “Legend of Bagger Vance”
- 2001 — “Ali”
- 2002 — “Men In Black II”
- 2003 — “Bad Boys II”
- 2004 — “I, Robot” and “Shark Tale”
- 2005 — “Hitch”
- 2006 — “Pursuit of Happiness”
- 2007 — “I Am Legend”
- And the 2008 Big Willie Weekend STOOPIDEST movie EVER “Hancock”
Well, I’m not a movie critic, but if I, who thought “Wild Wild West” was a good movie was disappointed with “Hancock” that had potential, then I think people should take notice. I guess this is Will Smith’s “Catwoman” equivalent; it was bound to happen, he never had a movie, aside from the critiques of “Wild Wild West” that just outright sucked.
And no, there are no plot spoilers, because the following is usually obvious: Will Smith’s love interest is Charlize Theron, and I must say that Hancock feeling the need to protect and save the white woman was somewhat disturbing. But, of course, in this post-racial society–wait, I can’t even write that lie in good conscience–in this racist society, where LeBron James can eerily echo a King Kong on the cover of Vogue magazine as he holds Gisele Bundchen, and we’ve yet again tackled this idea of a black man and a leading white woman in cinema.
I think if the movie had been done well I woulda have swallowed the pill and just been post-racial for that 90 minutes to 2 hour time frame and still had Will Smith sitting on a pedestal. But because the plot line began to fail miserably, and the writing began to slip quickly down a slippery slope, and because the directing DIED ON THE VINE as if they swtiched directors in the middle of the movie, it was like Why Black Man are you fighting for (as AverageBro so eloquently states) THAT WOMAN? I mean, there was no intrinsic value in fighting for her, she….well, lemme not give away the plot all the way.
Let’s just say the idea of a black man fighting for that woman is getting old.
And once one sees the movie, if at all, then you’ll know how this plot line just fell flat. I’ve never seen a movie that shifted so violently as far as plot, writing style and ability, and mood. I went from a very, very, good comedy to a melodrama. I guess, you saw some of the melodrama coming, of course naturally in the scene where the viewer gets clued in on the backstory of how the superhero comes about, but this movie, it was so subtle, it wasn’t until the end of the movie that you realized that the second half was horrible.
This first half was ripe with plot possibilities. Honestly, I thought that given his alcoholic superhero status that this movie would have been the movie where we see the plight of a black man, dealing with his past and owning up to his mistakes and triumphs, and doing the movie as a real black man.
Yet again, I shouldn’t have been fooled, this is Will Smith who I’ve written about in the past, as an actor who has shied away from roles that stereotypically portray him as an average black man. In “Six Degrees of Separation” he played a shiester black kid on the streets of Manhattan, who was gay, and looking to pull the wool over the eyes of New York elites–not exactly the average black male experience. The “Bad Boy’s” series, “Men In Blacks” allowed him to portray somewhat of an average black male experience. However, in neither of those movies, where he wasn’t portraying a real life character, has he played a character that was forced to live life as an average black male. In “Ali” and “Pursuit of Happiness” he was of course playing real-life people.
“Wild Wild West” just totally butchered the idea of race. The movie took place in 1869 (I think) and had Will Smith acting as though he would have been afforded the FULL rights of white males in both the North and the South, but yet and still invoking slavery, which did provide some sort of cognitive dissonance for me.
“I, Robot,” “Hitch” and “I Am Legend” are somewhat of the inbetween movies where he transcended race and played a race neutral role. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he did, I think very highly of all three of these in this category, but yet and still, nothing that Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt couldn’t have played just as easily.
“Independence Day,” and “Enemy of The State,” for me are the movies where he plays a totally average black male character. There were enough facets and nuances of average black maleness that those in the black community could appreciate. The dominant factor for me was simply because he had Vivica Fox and Regina King, respectively, by his side for each of these movies, and they are both black women.
I still haven’t figured out “Shark Tales” yet, lol.
And then….oh, and then….the one black guy who can’t seem to get a break (and I heard his stand-up is horrible as well)…Mike Epps.
Mike Epps showed his a$$ up during the credits and I said loudly “Oh my God, what’s Mike Epps doing in this movie?” and my white cohorts said “Who?”
So am I the only one slightly conflicted about casting black men in roles that are race neutral? While I’m happy they got the role, I’d wish they play a role where they clearly are aware of the cultural and racial differences?
Keep it uppity and keep it radically truthful, JLL