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Review: The High Note

Drama? Check. Music? Check. Romance? Check.

The High Note delivers all the required elements for a satisfying, mainstream-friendly chick flick, though it could have scored higher if not for a few flaws: there’s a twist you’ll see coming a mile away; it could use more music, drama and romance; and the character development is a bit on the shallow side. But it’s still an entertaining watch in, or out of, quarantine. The movie is reminiscent of The Devil Wears Prada except that it’s set in the LA music scene rather than the NY fashion scene, and it features the overworked personal assistant to a notorious pop diva, rather than the overworked personal assistant to a notorious magazine editor.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Barbershop: The Next Cut; The Dark Horse; First Monday in May

Barbershop: The Next Cut is the second sequel (or maybe the third if you count the spin-off, Beauty Shop) to the 2002 surprise hit, Barbershop, about a day in the life of a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago. The shop, run by Calvin (Ice Cube) serves as a lifeline to the community. But the community is changing. And in The Next Cut, Calvin is contemplating moving his family, and the shop, to the North Side to protect his teenage son from the gang violence permeating the streets. Cedric the Entertainer is back as the comic relief, playing Eddie, a barber who can’t be trusted with scissors or a razor, but is there to tell it like it is. The movie gets a bit heavy-handed with the messaging and a few sub-plots are more of a distraction than a delight. But it means well. It’s got heart, and enough humor to prevent it from being another Chi-Raq. It ties up way too neatly in the end, given the current climate on the South Side, but overall, the movie provides an accessible and timely message worth sharing with teenagers, regardless of demographic and locale.

Ride Along 2

One year ago, I was writing about the first Ride Along movie, describing it as a typical mid-January offering that served as perfectly harmless, mindless entertainment. I wish I could say the same about the sequel, Ride Along 2. But it doesn’t quite rise to the level of mindless entertainment. It’s more like an extended episode of a bad Miami Vice spoof that elicits the occasional laugh-out-loud moment before falling back into a pit of predictability, clichés, and plot-holes.

Straight Outta Compton

I really liked this film, even though I’m not normally a fan of hip hop, because it has a great story and great characters and, I have to admit, some great music. It’s a bio-drama about a group of friends in one of Los Angeles’s rougher neighborhoods who got together in the mid-80s and used hip hop to describe their lives and spread their truth and were blown away by the incredible reception to their message. They became huge stars and changed the music industry. And all these years later, the racism and discrimination they were reacting to in their music feels just as relevant.

Ride Along

Ride Along is a typical, formulaic, middle-of-the-road January offering. Not exactly a must see, but harmless entertainment. A sort of Beverly Hills Cop light. In Atlanta. Kevin Hart plays Ben, a fast-talking high-school security guard and video-game junkie with aspirations to join the police academy. But his potential future brother-in-law (Ice Cube), a hot-tempered Atlanta detective, doesn’t think Ben has what it takes to be a cop, or to marry his sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). So he takes Ben on a ride-along that’s essentially been ‘fixed’ to include only the most annoying and obnoxious runs. Of course, the plan goes awry and comedy and ‘drama’ ensue.

21 Jump Street

Okay, this one is really quite simple. 21 Jump Street is cheesy, dorky and crude. But it’s also kinda funny. So if you’re a fan of Harold and Kumar-type humor, then chances are you’ll enjoy this campy, satirical reboot of the ’80 TV show that put Johnny Depp on the map. If you’ve never heard of Jump Street – or you can’t stand H&K – then skip this one for sure. And if you’re thinking of taking the kids on a nostalgic trip down memory lane ’cause the tv show represented mostly good, clean drama (at least in the early years), then be advised: this movie is an action-comedy that more than earns its R rating. In other words- it’s definitely not for the pre-teen crowd.