Saturday, March 31, 2012

112) The Breaks (1999)

112) The Breaks (1999) Dir: Eric Meza Date Released: February 26, 199 Date Seen: March 30, 2012 Rating: 

I want to be clear about why I watched this film: it's for the White Elephant Blogathon. Ok? Makes a lot more sense now, right? Well, maybe not a lot more. But still. More sense.

And right about now I am not happy with my White Elephant gifter. Nuh uh, no way. This is my third year participating in  the blogathon and I have yet to have my mind suitably nuked by a really bad movie. First year, I was assigned The Pest, which is just irritating. Last year, I got Surviving the Game, which was...yeah, same shit, different year. This year, I get The Breaks. Which is again, just aggressively bad and unfunny. Look, guys and girls, I grew up in Queens so yes, I dare say that I am familiar with ethnic humor. I even remember avidly watching the Wayans Brothers' sitcom, the show where The Breaks' "star" Mitch Mullany and co-writer got his first really big break. I went to two different branches of the United Nations International School, one in Manhattan and one in Jamaica, Queens, and then public school in Little Neck, Queens, until seventh grade. I get it and have experienced it many a time: racial tension! And gol-ly, an itty-bitty difference in skin color can be the meat for a lot of really bad comedians' routines, too.

This year, I've once again been stuck with a shitty comedy about race and this time it's a comedy about a wigger that thinks that black people need to respect his racial authoritah or something. Mullany's Derrick is a lazy, black-booty-chasing know-nothing. And that is basically the main conceit of his film. Are you ready? Here it is. Ahem: BLACK PEOPLE! ATTENTION, BLACK PEOPLE OFTHE GHETTO (YOU KNOW THE ONE....SOUTH CENTRAL)! MITCH MULLANY IS ONE OF YOU! ACCEPT IT ALREADY!

Mullany's vile and unfunny schtick is a tirelessly lame variation on that central theme. Oh, sure, Derrick makes fun of the fact that he's whiter than most white people by making stupid jokes about Riverdance and the IRA. And lookit, he's got a funny car with out-of-control hydraulics, too. But when he crashes a poetry slam and sees a black man performing a cheesy but heart-felt poem about what it means to be a black man in modern society, Mullany reveals that he's not joking after a certain point. Mullany's tired of being a black man amongst black men. So he makes a lame, off-the-cuff inversion of the black guy's poem about what it's like to be black (a friend of his periodically interrupts him to facetiously intone, "And darkness fell upon the white boy."). 

Really, guys? This is what you think is funny, to submit something this soul-drainingly stupid? Look, when it comes to race, my theory is simple: everyone sees difference, no matter what. What people do with that difference is what distinguishes a racist from anyone else. So the way Mullany insists that stereotypes, the ugliest and most salient signs of racial difference, don't matter and that we're all one big melting pot of a racial family that happen to enjoy behaving like stereotypes? It's a load of crap. It's as if Mullany watched some Spike Lee movies (Derrick is constantly talk about wanting to "do the right thing") and totally misunderstood them.

And bonus fingers-on-chalkboard points for the egregiously stupid homophobic jokes that are peppered throughout The Breaks. This culminates in a weird Pulp Fiction-style sex dungeon torture scene where two fearfully straight black men (and Derrick, too) whimper and moan in anticipation of being raped by an excessively flamboyant gay man that hisses his "s"es like a snake and hops around in Daisy Dukes. 

In conclusion: this is a bad movie. And not bad in a, "Oh, I'm having fun because it is so bad" kind of way. More like a "I Want to Meet the ##@$ that Submitted This Film to the White Elephant Blogathon and Give Them a Withering Look" kind of way. Some day, I will get a good White Elephant movie. Some day....


  1. Really, guys? This is what you think is funny, to submit something this soul-drainingly stupid?

    Ah, you DID get the movie I submitted. Like I said on Twitter, I was deliberately being a sadistic bastard when I submitted this. And of course I had no idea who would get it, so it's not like I personally thought "hey, Simon got shitty comedies about race for two years in a row, I'll give him a third." You know that, right?

    I don't think this movie is high art. I wanted to see what others thought of the film, whether it was so tasteless it started becoming funny, whether it was a misguided attempt at "post racism" or just of weak ploy for attention.

    As far as I'm concerned, you don't have to call me a ##@$, just say it straight if you're that upset.

  2. Hey, Stacia.

    I had a feeling this was your submission. I was, of course, exagerratung for effect, do don't worry about it.

  3. Or maybe I should say: "Don't worry about it, you %*#*." :)