DAR Films: The Best & Worst Of Black Film In 1997

By @TrueGodImmortal

So, black film in the 90's was just about at the peak. We have discussed so many years so far that it leaves us with only a few options to discuss in the genre, and we have arrived at one of the last years left in the decade, 1997. While 1997 was a solid year for television and music, it was not the best year for black film. Today, we take a look at the best and mostly the worst of the year in black film. Let's get into it.

*Def Jam's How To Be A Player

-So, this is a film that many have called a cult classic despite being a bit of a cluttered mess and cheesy at times. Regardless, Bill Bellamy delivers in his role as Dray, a playboy looking to continue playing the game. Lark Voorhies stars as his unsuspecting girlfriend, as he does his dirt behind her back consistently, but is close to being caught. Dray finally gets caught cheating at the end, but not before realizing his goal of sleeping with the very attractive Katrina, played by the beautiful Mari Morrow. In terms of movies this year, How To Be A Player is nothing special and probably falls into the worst pile, but I personally liked this movie, as it was mostly entertaining. Nothing cinematic or really deep, just a ridiculous plot and some good laughs.

*Soul Food

-So, this movie is one of those classics that sometimes goes underrated. Soul Food as a standalone film is actually solid. The writing is a bit choppy and the story has some small problems in it, but for the most part, I find myself entertained and enjoying what I'm watching. This is a movie about the importance of family and love, and while some instances of family love here are contrived and a bit of a reach, watching the family go through their drama and find a way back to their common ground after losing the centerpiece of that family and I know many of us can relate to that. Vanessa Williams, Nia Long, Mekhi Phifer, and Brandon Hammond all have pivotal roles in this film and the soundtrack to this movie is one of the greatest ever.


-I had to go back and really look at this movie and see how I felt about it. While Sprung was not one of my personal favorites coming up, I can admit that it has some moments of hilarity. Joe Torry is mostly responsible for the laughs, and of course, this is a Rusty Cundieff film, who was one of the more underrated directors of the era. His films were always entertaining, and had a good amount of comedy. Tisha Campbell and Paula Jai Parker also star in this film, and a small role for John Witherspoon manages to steal the show. The soundtrack was also a highlight, with a number of great artists featured.

*Eve's Bayou

-It is not very often that we see a movie that showcases the voodoo in the depths of Louisiana centered around the black community, along with themes of infidelity and family dysfunction, but Eve's Bayou has just that. The film is centered a crazy summer for the Batiste family in which many skeletons fall out of the closet and some lies are told that shift the direction of the film. Jurnee Smollett is good in her role, while Meagan Good is also good in her role, which plays a bigger part in the movie than you realize as the plot develops. Samuel L. Jackson however is the true star of this film, as he commands the screen with his role. The way things play out in this movie are intriguing and well paced and this is one of my favorites from 1997.


-This movie was far from amazing. It was cheap in many ways, cheesy in many ways, and stereotypical as can be for no reason. However, it somehow has entertainment value beyond imagination and that is largely due to Halle Berry in a role that does not fit her but it works. She is almost cringeworthy to watch at times, but I've seen this movie multiple times and I cannot tell you why nor do I have any idea why. Where does this movie fall under the 1997 spectrum? Probably in the worst of the worst pile, as the comedy is hit and miss, and the entire premise is ridiculous. Halle Berry in a blonde wig and some bad outfits can't change how stupid this movie is, yet as I mentioned, I've still seen it numerous times for whatever reason. Go figure.

*Booty Call

-So clearly, 1997 was far from the best year in black film. It really had some ups and some real downs. Booty Call is one of those down moments, yet it is still entertaining. 1997 lacked that powerful black film that sent a message and opted to instead just entertain you, which Booty Call did. Tommy Davidson and Jamie Foxx are both hilarious and they are ridiculously funny in this film, and Tamala Jones and Vivica Fox have some comedic moments in the film as well. Booty Call takes a turn for the strange near the end with how the story played out, which adds to the entertainment value overall, but if we are talking the quality of movies from this year, it rests in the pile with the worst of the worst, despite the entertainment.

*Love Jones

-It is quite simple. This is probably the most infamous black movie of the year and with proper reason. The movie is one of the most impactful black love film stories, at least amongst women. While most men would tell you the film is what it is, the consensus amongst many women is that Love Jones is one of the best black film love stories and I would agree. It is less corny than Brown Sugar, more relatable than say Jason's Lyric, and it is more entertaining than some of the others. This film follows the love story of Darius and Nina through the many ups and downs and in some way, the story is one that you can relate to in a way. They fall for each other when they least expected to, fall apart at the height, find their way back, only to fall apart and find their way back again. That story is relatable on the surface, and that is what is endearing about the movie. Larenz Tate and Nia Long also have great onscreen chemistry. All in all, Love Jones fits in the best of the best section for 1997.



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