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Meet the Blacks (2016)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/2/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/26/2016
I would guess that many people, even those who consider themselves film fans, don't give a lot of thought to how movies are marketed. They watch trailers and they see posters, and from things like that, they get the information which they need. In theory, promoting a movie should be easy. However, when a marketing campaign goes horribly awry, it really stands out. Judging from the title, one would assume that Meet the Blacks is yet another in a long line of "Meet the" comedies such as Meet the Parents which includes an awkward family introduction. The presence of "comedic actor" Mike Epps in the lead surely confirms that fact, right? Wrong. Meet the Blacks is a spoof of The Purge. Would you have guessed that? Me neither.
Meet the Blacks introduces us to Carl Black (Mike Epps), an electrician and small-time crook from Chicago who, in order to give his family a better life, robs a gangster. He uses this movie to take his wife, Lorena (Zulay Henao), and his two children, Allie (Bresha Webb) and Carl Jr. (Alex Henderson), as well as his cousin, Cronut (Lil Duval), to Beverly Hills, where they can start a new life. They move into a mansion and are adjusting to a new lifestyle, when the night of the annual Purge arrives. On this night, all crime is legal. Suddenly, the Black's house is being bombarded by assailants who are out for blood and revenge. Carl assumed that everything would be safe in Beverly Hills. He was wrong.
OK, as I often try to do, let's begin this review by giving credit where credit is due. Somewhere inside Meet the Blacks is a good idea. Most of the events seen in The Purge films (I haven't seen the third one yet) come across as random. This film presents the notion of a group of individuals using Purge night as an opportunity to get revenge on one person for the wrongs which that person has committed in the past. What better time to strike than the night where anything goes? This is a great concept and if used in a serious manner, could have made for a thrilling movie. Just think, you've got the person who lives in a big house who thinks that they are safe and they suddenly find themselves under siege. In the right hands, this concept could also work as a comedy, as the targeted person found themselves in one "give me a break" situation after another.
Instead, what we get is a puerile mess which barely resembles a finished feature film. From the outset, this movie is all over the place. We get an animated credits sequences which is supposed to explain how and why the Blacks got to Beverly Hill, and then it jumps right in to the "story", which is essentially a lot of people yelling at one another. Once the plot shows up, things get even weirder. It feels as if two movies have been stitched together. At times, Carl acts like he doesn't know what the Purge is, while in other scenes, he assumes that the family will be safe because of where they live. The bulk of the film consists of Scooby-Doo-esque scenes in which characters chase each other from room-to-room while scream obscenities. The "plot" consists of various bad guys who are after Carl showing up and yelling. There are no twists or surprises, and things are further diminished by the CG blood in one scene. The final nail in the coffin is a coda which not only hints at a sequel which no one wants, but contains a cameo from a horror icon which makes no sense whatsoever.
Did I say earlier that Meet the Blacks is a spoof of The Purge? That's not exactly accurate. That could plant a seed which would make viewers expect something like Scary Movie. Instead, this plays more like a less-serious version of The Purge...which really isn't about The Purge. Although, that word is said in the movie enough, and it's used as a verb, as in "I'm going to purge you!". That doesn't even make sense. Writer/Director Deon Taylor has actually made a horror film in the past, which was entitledChain Letter. It wasn't very good either, but it was better than this mess. From beginning to end, this movie is an assault on the sense and an insult to intelligence. Amid the torrent of foul language, insults, and the "N-word", there are a few funny lines, but the movie makes no attempt at all to be clever.
Meet the Blacks could have used more actual jokes and less cameos on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 34 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look OK, but the image is bit too dark at times. The picture has a somewhat flat look, but the level of detail remains satisfactory throughout. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The nearly-constant rap music in the film provides palpable bass and often fills the speakers. In a few scenes, we are treated to some stereo and surround effects, some of which highlight sounds coming from off-screen.
The Meet the Blacks Blu-ray Disc has a few extra features. "The Making of Meet the Blacks" (15 minutes) opens with Epps claiming that this is "a fun, family, scary movie". OK. We also hear from Writer/Director Deon Taylor who tries to explain the movie and justify its existence. We then get comments from other cast members who talk about the story and their experience on the film. Executive Producer Snoop Dogg, and that's that. The piece does include a nice amount of on-set footage. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Hit the Gas" by Raven Felix featuring Snoop Dogg and Nef the Pharaoh, which is followed by a "Behind the Scenes" (5 minutes). The "Don't Hate Wiring! Parody Commercial" (38 seconds) is something which looks like it should have been in the movie, but wasn't. Finally, there is a 1-minute reel of OUTTAKES.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long