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DAR Films: The Best And Worst Of Black Film In 1996

By @TrueGodImmortal


We've been covering the years in black film over the last months or so, and today, we continue that trend. The years 1996 and 1997 were interesting years for music, but they were also interesting for black film as well. Today, I wanted to start by taking a look at 1996 (I will cover 1997 next week) and list the best and worst of the black films or the films with a mostly black cast that had an impact on the year. Which films make the list? Which films fall into the best and worst categories? Let's take a look.

*Don't Be A Menace In South Central


-Parody films are often hit or miss, but as we discussed last week in our parody article, this might be the best parody of them all. Spoofing all of the classic hood films, this was an excellent watch that showcased the hilarity that the Wayans bring to the table often. I love this film for many reasons, as the jokes and all around comedy just seem to work perfect. Marlon Wayans steals the show here of course, but Shawn Wayans has his moments as well. Overall, this was a great parody and a laugh out loud comedy that still plays well some 22 years later.

*Phat Beach


-This movie is... interesting. A failure at the box office and a failure in general, Phat Beach misses more than it connects, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering the premise. Starring Brian Hooks (straight to DVD black film legend), Coolio, and Jermaine Hopkins, this film brings a few laughs here and there, but for the most part, it leaves you mostly bored. From selling sunglasses to trying to lure the beautiful women on the bench to be interested, this movie just has such an empty plot that really leaves you wishing for better jokes. The eye candy however is a true highlight.

*A Thin Line Between Love And Hate


-Martin Lawrence was on top of the world when 1996 hit. Martin was the funniest show on TV (and all time), and he was enjoying a nice run with films following the success of Bad Boys. He would use his success to put together an entertaining yet dark romantic comedy that shows how serious things can be when hearts get broken. The film was written and directed by Martin, and of course he would star in it as well, making this a huge victory for his career. The film was a success as well, earning almost 40 million at the box office with a budget of 8 million dollars. The cast includes Bobby Brown, Lynn Whitfield, Regina King, among others, as we learn that sometimes playinf with the wrong heart can almost turn deadly. While this movie isn't necessarily a classic, it is one of the more entertaining films from 1996.

*The Nutty Professor


-My favorite movie of the year, well at least tied with Don't Be A Menace is The Nutty Professor. Sure, the story was told before, but not in this manner. Eddie Murphy takes the roles of Buddy Love and Sherman Klump and he excels here, along with playing more roles for Sherman's family. Jada Pinkett is nice in her role as the love interest of the film, and a young Dave Chappelle has a star making turn in a short role in this movie as a ridiculous comedian named Reggie. The way the story plays out is laugh out loud funny, and Eddie controls the screen with his comedic genius and cooler reserve when need be. I think The Nutty Professor is one of Eddie's best movies and it is certainly a film that had a nice impact on the year.

*Get On The Bus


-This film is always interesting to look back on for several reasons. For one, I was interested to see the depiction of how the travel to the Million Man March went, and I felt at the time, as a kid, that Spike Lee was perfect for that job of telling the story. I was right and wrong. While the unified front that takes shape over the course of the film is really solid, and fits well with the theme, some of the elements of the film are a bit all over the place. While that can be good in certain instances, here the movie tends to drag in certain spots, losing you within all the characters Spike chooses to give a story to. The premise and idea was noble and interesting, but honestly, I felt the execution led us to a mixed result for this film.

*Set It Off


-So, plenty of people have spoke highly of this film and to an extent, rightfully so. This drama about 4 friends who decided to rob banks to make their lives much better has the right amount of friendship and story driven plight to lure you in. As unrealistic as some elements are in this film, there are some that still manage to hit close to home, particularly one scene involving an innocent man and the cops shooting. It is a darker moment in a dark movie that features solid performances from Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett, Kimberly Elise, and Vivica Fox. The premise definitely leaves you wanting the four ladies to get away with they committed, but of course, the story ends tragically. The Queen Latifah death scene is an iconic death scene in black film, but to me, honestly, as a whole, the movie is just okay. It has some good moments and some good pacing, but it is nothing special. It is still an important movie for the cast and the premise, but it is not one of my favorites from the year on this list.

*The Preacher's Wife


-This movie was one that perhaps wasn't the best idea in retrospect, but for a young kid, it was one of the best movies possible. Whitney, Denzel, and Courtney B. Vance have solid roles in this film, and there is a bit of chemistry throughout the movie with Denzel and Whitney, but the story and some of the dialogue definitely miss the mark. Denzel is interesting in his role as Dudley the angel, and Whitney has some moments where she has to sing as well here. Overall, The Preacher's Wife is a nice middle of the road family film that is a decent watch on the year. Which of these films are your favorite? Feel free to leave a comment below.

-True

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