Directed By Deon Taylor
Starring – Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Bresha Webb
The Plot – When best selling author Carl Black (Epps) moves his family back to his childhood home, he must team up with oddball neighbors to do battle with a pimp (Williams), who may or may not be an actual vampire.
Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content, and brief nudity
– Connective tissue. As to where most spoof sequels feel like a freshly original and deconstructive chapter in a series of movies, “Meet the Blacks 2” brings with it an attention to consistency that firmly remembers its predecessor, all the while standing on its own without using it as a crutch. Almost immediately, we are not only reminded of the conflicts and resolutions of the previous film, but also in the abundance of main characters who have made the trip back for the sequel, five years after the first. As for the material itself, I have very little positive to say about it, but one pleasantry is that this film refuses to settle for sequelitis, outlining 97 minutes of fresh material that doesn’t rely on the consistency of its predecessor to cater to the majority of its audience. It very much feels like an accommodating second chapter to this franchise that isn’t even remotely credible or based on storytelling consistency, granting it a rare appreciation that I wish more sequel comedies would approach with.
– Lil Duval. Easily the biggest benefit to this film’s eclectic cast of black comedians and musicians is the return of Jacksonville’s favorite son, who unapologetically steals the show from an abundance of aforementioned cast. Duval is not only responsible for the two laughs that I had during this movie, but also supplants a consistency for energy in his deliveries that make this opportunity feel like anything other than a cash grab obligation to his ensuing career. It helps enough that Duval plays a supporting cousin character, allowing his appearances to remain fresh despite the majority of scene contexts feeling entirely repetitive and derivative from its previous inclusion. The fact that anyone shines in a movie like this is a testament to the skill of the actor who attains it, and while there was never a single moment in the film where I felt it was going to turn the corner of elevating my expectations, I can say that Lil Duval is the only reason other than my critic obligation that I would even think about seeing a third film under this cinematic universe.
– Lazy story. Everything about this plot and ensuing storytelling makes very little sense in the context of the rules and environment established in this and its previous film, and is made all the more evidential by the lack of pursuit the run time wastes away at fleshing out in a way that feels even remotely consequential. Katt Williams plays a vampire, but there’s very few moments when that reality makes itself present in the focus and direction of a scene. Likewise, the flailing characterization leaves plenty more to be desired, both in the unnecessary abundance of time that it grants certain characters, and the minimal allowance that it affords to others who deserve it. One such instance pertains to Carl’s wife (Played by Zulay Henao), a prominent character in the first film, who here is reduced to either an object of sexualizing ogling, or someone who repeats the line “I’m going to work”, despite the fact that we never actually learn what it is that she does. Everything mentioned is purely topical, for the sake of plot and transitional convenience, lacking an urgency or coherence for clarity that disproves that even five minutes was spent fleshing matters out beyond this being an obviously smoked out idea between Taylor and writing partner Corey Harrell.
– Humiliating humor. When you’re not laughing in a comedy, it makes the experience all the more insufferable, and considering “Meet the Blacks 2” only tugged at my laughter twice in the entirety of its film, it made for one of my most frustrating sits in all of 2021. Considering the first film, while not a good movie, did attain laughter in more than a few of its clever set-ups, it’s more than disappointing that almost every line of dialogue here is improvised from comedians who never know when to quit. The biggest offender is definitely Epps, whose lines not only rarely make sense in the context of the punchline, but whose timing often betrays the integrity and believability in the scene, breaking the fourth wall at a time when structure is needed to sell the adversity from the antagonist. Finally, the abundance of toilet humor and juvenile pervertedness loses its limited appeal at around ten minutes into the film, then overstaying its welcome to Marlon Wayans level of repetitive hammering that even a collection of comedians can’t effectively translate.
– Bumpy ride. I never thought 97 minutes could feel so arduos and forceful, but considering this script builds so little momentum in both its humiliating comedy and amateur editing, it has this film feeling like three times its natural run time. Honestly, I was bored with this movie around a half hour in, when the antagonist had been mentioned but not materialized before the audience’s very eyes, and when the entirety of the movie’s first act was the very definition of the term “Settled”, in all of its grounded lack of ambition. It gets slightly more intriguing when Williams finally does appear, but by then the audience interpretation of the material conveying an essence of disorganized ad-libbing made it an ineffective inclusion, leaving the film feeling void of any lifted emotional resonance from its audience.
– Tormented pawns. With the exception of Lil Duval, who I previously heralded for the commitment he brings to his role, the remainder of this talented ensemble sleep through each of the worst performances of their respective careers. I already bombed Epps, so I won’t go there, but Michael Blackson is a comedian who I thoroughly enjoy, and when combined with a more dependent consistency during the movie’s second half, shows how one-dimensional the depth of his talents convey. Katt Williams, who also has never been responsible for the best performance in any film, dulls and distorts believability and edge to his antagonist in a way that isn’t remotely intimidating or funny for the enjoyment of the audience. His monotonous delivery, whether intentional or not, comes across as lifeless and void of any kind of energy that indulges audience to the dynamic he brings to the forefront after a 35 minute introduction to begin the film. Finally, the female presence in the film serves as nothing more than a body during the moments when the male protagonists need to disperse a joke about boobies or sex. Such a realization comes at how unnecessary any of them were to the conflict resolution or consistent focus of the narrative, keeping them hidden until the moment when they were absolutely needed for visual value instead of emotional one.
– Direction. After a monumental improvement in last year’s “Fatale”, that earned him respect in the eyes of this critic, “Meet the Blacks 2” is a monumental low for Deon Taylor, feeling like an anti-climactic hodgepodge of ideas and outdated punchlines that was the culmination of five years of brainstorming. As a visionary, there’s much problematic about Taylor’s capabilities, primarily in his aiming of the camera, which constantly feels like it is one step behind where the energy of the environment materializes. In addition, his overall presentation almost immediately reminds me of cheapness, especially within his 2:35.1 aspect ratio’s, which are typically used to showcase action epics in all of its widely expansive framing, and when used here stretches the reality of the neighborhood in ways that are an obvious deterrant to limit these tightly intimate angles depicting some other hiccups in production that I will get to in just a second. Taylor has carved out a career of mindless mayhem that outlines one of the more relaxed approaches to cinema that contemporary times can materialize, but in a career with more bombs than banks, it’s time he sacrifices control over the writing or direction to pay more time to one or the other. Doing so will tighten his attention, and allow his films to prosper at least more than this trainwreck did.
– Flawed traits. For 3.5 million dollars, the elements of post-production influence simply aren’t there, and prove that there’s more than one way to burn through an allowance of budget that simply isn’t seen on screen in elements. The first disaster is within the editing, a momentous and stitching disaster so incompetent that it often halts scenes before they’ve properly concluded, all the while leaving the focus on an unspeaking character for unnerving levels of artistic awareness. From there, the computer generated properties of some unintentionally hilarious special effects are rendered with early 2000’s level of outdated influence, complete with lifeless layers and unnecessary influence that would’ve been much easier done and effectively invigorating with practicality. It keeps this film from attaining the big screen emphasis needed in its elements of production to keep it dazzling, proving that the excess of its reach for a paranormal conflict was too much for the reality of its grasp.
– Double disappointment. The elements of comedy failed miserably, as previously alluded to, so how do the elements of horror find themselves in the film? As it turns out, entirely non-existent, as the lack of bodies and void of darker tones makes this an aimless, directionless project where even the smallest detail goes unrealized. Yes, I don’t watch spoofs to be entranced and immersed in the elements of horror, but considering the first movie in this franchise succeeded in attaining the measures of tonal maturity for the benefit of the story and its antagonist, the lack of which here feels unnecessarily bare, leaving its R-rated capabilities virtually unexplored in all material pertaining to horror or anything even remotely violent.
My Grade: 2/10 or F-