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Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Charles Burnett’s original cut on his sophomore effort was so over-extended & unfocused, the film didn't get picked up for distribution, and his career never developed the momentum needed to fulfill its early promise. Returning to it in 2007, Burnett ditched half an hour of chaff, revealing a smart & often funny story about an ambition-free thirty-something son who still lives at home, works at his parents’ small store and spends too much time & energy resenting his older brother, a movin’-on-up lawyer with a socially rising finance. His chip-on-the-shoulder attitude spills out in many ways, especially when he's palling around with his longtime best friend, a classic inner-city dead-ender recidivist who takes the story into tragicomic territory. Burnett keeps his story loose enough to go off on some nicely observed character tangents, which ring true in spite of some amateurish acting, but he's unable to work out the dramatic logistics of his big climax which pits the duties of being a Best Man against the duties of being pall bearer to a Best Friend. Burnett seems afraid of the farcical implications in his set up (where’s his inner ‘I Love Lucy?’) and just lets the whole thing peter out.

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