Who’s In It: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington
The Basics: Angry cop Sam Jackson is incensed to discover that his new neighbors have the nerve to be a mixed-race couple. So he starts harassing them. They fight back. He yells. They yell. He yells more. (And it doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t beat Sam Jackson at yelling. He wins every time.) More fighting. More yelling. Strippers get involved, as do Bubba Sparxxx-ish thugs. And it’s set in Los Angeles so there’s also a huge, lazy metaphor of a wildfire blazing nearby.
What’s The Deal: I have a soft spot in my heart for trashy movies that pretend to be about one thing when really they’re something completely else. In this case we’re treated to a hilariously histrionic, no-fixed-center “dialogue” about race (Sam even berates Wilson for listening to hip-hop and tells him that the music will never turn him black, not long before calling Washington a “chocolate drop.” Incendiary!) that is, in truth, a lunk-headed, amoral Single White Female/Hand That Rocks The Cradle-plagiarizing thriller.
How Movies Like This Get Made:
Development Suit # 1: What’d you do last night?
Development Suit # 2: Got drunk. Watched Unlawful Entry on cable.
Development Suit # 1: I finally Netflixed Crash. I like to make sure I keep up with the classics.
Development Suit # 2: What if we combined those two movies and got Sam Jackson as the bad guy?
Development Suit # 1: And there can be brawls with, like, chainsaws and garden tools.
Development Suit # 2: Right. It should be fun. And everything’ll catch on fire at the end.
Development Suit # 1: We’re geniuses.
Slumming Director Alert: Neil LaBute took on this one. He could have done some Advil commercials and kept quiet about it, just walked away with the check, but no, this was too important a project, too vital a message. Important issues raised by films like The Thing With Two Heads have gone too long unanswered by Hollywood. The world was waiting.
Vintage Cop Shout Out: Be on the lookout for Ron Glass as Kerry Washington’s snippy dad. He was the clotheshorse detective on that sitcom Barney Miller back in the 70s. Don’t remember Barney Miller? Well, then I guess you’re not totally old like me. Or you were busy reading books back then when you should have been watching TV.