Movies: Review - Red Hook Summer

Is this your answer to Tyler Perry or even Bishop TD Jakes’ church movies, Spike?

Rated R | Drama - August 31, 2012 (Charlotte)

*originally posted on Yahoo! Movies 

Uh...was that Spike Lee’s comeback film? “Red Hook Summer” does NOT remind me of a classic “Spike Lee Joint”. Let’s walk down memory lane. Prior to this film, Spike Lee got everyone in the black community’s attention with “Do the Right Thing” (1989), even though before that he made “She’s Gotta Have It” (1986) and “School Daze” (1988). Then he followed it up with“Mo' Better Blues” (1990), “Jungle Fever” (1991), “Malcolm X” (1992) and my favoriteCrooklyn”  (1994). And let’s not forget “Inside Man” with  Denzel Washington, Lee’s biggest blockbuster to date. Boy, Spike Lee was on a role! For Black America, Spike Lee was finally telling “our” stories and not just the bad, but the good. He was keeping it real.

New York City Entertainment reporter Patrick Riley said:

"I LOVE SPIKE LEE's early work. Each early joint introduced subjects that weren't just being seen in films, but that Black folks were afraid to talk about authentically or intelligently. Before Carrie Bradshaw could be spotted in her Manolo Blahniks in "Sex & The City", Nola Darling was exercising an in-your-face brand of sexuality that had more than Spike's character Mars Blackmon begging "please, baby baby please!". He turned "School Daze" into any school year at one of his fictional versions of Morehouse, Spelman, and/or any of the esteemed Historically Black Colleges or Universities - with music, mayhem, and political controversy to boot. His "Do The Right Thing" looked at race in the face of long-standing-yet-contemporary conflicts between Blacks and Whites - in the storied neighborhoods of Brooklyn USA. And who else was going to do "Malcolm X" justice? To ensure so, he called on African American icons Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, and more when the film's budget became a Hollywood studio concern"." "Not too unlike his early work, Spike continues to push the button by telling new stories and anecdotal tales from slices of life rarely put on display - in film, at least. After setting several of his flicks in Brooklyn - including Bed-Stuy and Coney Island, he introduces his fans to Red Hook, a nook of Brooklyn rarely exposed and sometimes reduced to where the Ikea is. But Spike goes deeper, as usual."
Over the past few years, as Tyler Perry’s rise in fame and fortune swept Black America, Spike Lee started some passive-aggressive beef with him. (Passive-aggressive, in that he felt compelled to criticize Tyler Perry’s work to the media...instead of to his face...or by just keeping quiet. I’m not the biggest fan on Tyler Perry movies, especially his character Madea, but I do appreciate his hustle. Plus, money talks and the man has a niche audience who love his work!)

So aside from a few documentaries and TV specials, I fully expected Spike Lee’s first big box office movie in a time to really come with it. But, I am afraid to report...he did not. Quite frankly, I was surprised that his name was on this film. “Surely he is executive producer in title only.” I thought. Thinking he dropped in time to time...Spike Lee is not only the EP, but the director and co-wrote the screenplay.

Let me explain the plot, then I explain my issues with this movie.

The story begins as a mother drops her child off at her father’s home for the summer. Flik is the kid’s name. He’s originally from Atlanta. He’s used to all the luxuries most tweens and teens have today: fancy sneakers, skinny jeans, ipads. Spending in time in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn New York, it doesn’t take long for Flik to realize that he has it good at home with his loving mother. This story is not only the journey of the boy, but also of his grandfather Bishop Enoch Rouse. The Bishop is an overzealous Christian who literally tries to shove Jesus down his grandson’s throat.

Besides Spike Lee who makes a cameo, as he likes to do in his films, there are no real stars to headline this movie. I didn’t mind it. It’s essentially a movie of unknowns, but sometimes that is better. It’s is very indy-film...It was first shown in Sundance.

Some of the content within scenes were redundant, which makes it slow. Scenes moved without seemingly having a point. “Why did Spike Lee make this movie?” is what I asked after the film.

The worst part was that you literally have to sit through three full church services. I am not exaggerating. From the praise and worship, through the message, tithes and offering and even the alter-call.” It was exhausting. Was it meant to be funny? I really don’t understand the point of the full-services multiple times.

Lee said on Steve Harvey last week that he made the film in 18 days. Does that explain much? No, I don’t think so because other great masterpieces, including his own ”Do the Right Thing”, Lee said that he made in 15 days.

It’s not all bad. There are a few shining exceptions.
My favorite part was the scene towards the end as Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse was taking a long walk home. Unfortunately by the time the movie does get good, it doesn't seem to connect with what was set up in the first two-thirds of the film.

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