The Cookout must have been what Samuel L. Jackson had in mind when he said he wasn’t going to make any more movies with rappers-turned-actors.
For the only thing that makes this otherwise forgettable blaxploitation flick
noteworthy are its unfortunate contributions from hip-hoppers both in front
of and behind the camera.
In this regard, the relentlessly offensive film merely reflects a recent
cinematic trend, ala Soul Plane and Barbershop 2, towards relying heavily on
rappers to resurrect crude, cringe-inducing stereotypes in an indiscriminate
quest for a laugh. Given the base nature of the average rap video, I sense
that these artists have become popular with the studios because they have
already proven themselves to have no problem promulgating insulting images
The Cookout was produced by Queen Latifah who was also responsible for its
cliche-ridden script. And it was directed by Lance Rivera, CEO of Unertainment Records, which he co-founded with the late gangsta icon, Notorious B.I.G. Besides her highness, the movie features fellow rap artists like Ja Rule and Eve in an expanded ensemble cast which includes Danny Glover, original Charlie’s Angel Farah Fawcett, SNL alum Tim Meadows, Frankie Faison, Vincent Pastore, and a host of others.
In a nutshell, the ghetto-meets-suburbia plot line reads as follows.
Rutgers basketball phenom Todd Anderson (Storm P) is the first person picked
in the 2004 pro draft. Before the ink is even dry on his $30 million dollar
contract, this boy from the ‘hood hires a butler for his parents, buys his
girlfriend, Brittany (Magan Good), some expensive diamond jewelry and treats
himself to a Hummer.
His conspicuous consumption continues with a 7 bedroom, 10 bathroom mansion
in Garden Ridge Estates, located in a posh New Jersey suburb. Todd’s arrival
in this upscale oasis is regarded as ruining the neighborhood by the gated
community’s security guard (Latifah) and by his new next-door neighbors, the
Crowleys (Glover and Fawcett).
Basically, every joke rests on the idea that you can take a Black man out
of the ghetto, but that you can’t take the ghetto out of a Black man. For
not only does Todd exhibit terminal bad taste, but so does the menagerie of
friends and relatives who arrive for the big barbecue.
As a result, we are treated to dumb dialogue like, “A cookout ain’t never
been a cookout without chitlins,” during an unending contrast of poor and
polite society. Far worse are the guests’ depraved behaviors, which range
from overindulging in drugs and alcohol to inappropriate sexual references
to brandishing weapons to auto theft to armed robbery for sneakers to
kidnapping to addressing women with misogynistic monickers.
That’s a whole lot of wrong.
Poor (0 Stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and drug use.