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A Well-Meaning Mess of a Movie!
on May 20, 2009
Sadly, truthfully, this film deserves no four star reviews; I recommend you ignore them all if seriously considering seeing this project. It's indeed packed with familiar faces: Vivica Foxx, Leon, Lou Gossett, Jr, Roger G. Smith (the film's brightest shining star), Aunjanue Ellis, Paula Jai Parker, Clifton Davis, even Pattie Labelle. However, the direction - by Bill Duke - leaves much to be desired. Duke knows better; he should be ashamed of himself. He slums his way through this thing, knowing it would never hit the mainstream, knowing it was destined to lazily go straight to DVD, knowing its intended audience is the not-too-selective church crowd. Overall, the acting was really bad: the male lead simply can't act and his utter absence of charisma makes him interesting to watch simply for that reason (I pray I never see him in anything else ever again). Roger G. Smith and Leon best bring their roles to life, saving themselves (along with Ellis, I guess) from being lumped-in with all the other actors who are either over-the-top (Parker and Foxx), underplayed and forgettable (Gossett) or simply too bad to mention (the kid who plays the couple's daughter - sorry - and the disturbed wife of Leon's character). And it's all too bad, because the subject matter is an important and timely one, but it's handled so recklessly.
My family and I found ourselves routinely rewinding and laughing at spots that clearly weren't intended to be humorous. And the edits were atrocious - sloppily thrown together in the most heavy-handed manner. The poor edits, lazy lighting, sorry sound and myopic cinematography would all be forgivable if the film, in the end, somehow came together as whole - but no. In the end, Cover comes off as an insult to gay men (by the way, didn't the whole "three-finger-snaps" thing die-out after the In Living Color "Men of Film" sketches aired on TV almost two decades ago?), the church, Christians in general, wives, the city of Philly, Bill Duke, and most of the actors involved.
This movie essentially suffers from what I term "Tyler Perry Syndrome" - which describes an intrinsic hunger in Christians and people of color so desperate to see their stories, their lives and experiences, nuanced, and with a verisimilitude to which they can relate, celebrate and call their own -- that they are willing to lower their cinematic standards - or downright dismiss them altogether -- and settle for and embrace films that are in many regards inferior, and thus offensive.