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This Week in Netflix: “Fighting” May 23, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Movies, Popular Culture.
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Verdict: A hot, buttered mess from beginning to end.

I hate Terrence Howard. Two hours of watching this drivel was made only worse by listening to Howard’s crazy-ass voice. He sounded like…like a cross between a brain damaged Willie Loman and a brain damaged five year old. The bottom line: he sounded slow. Plus, he cannot, I repeat, CANNOT act. I know, I know: I need to see Hustle and Flow. I’ll get around to it. In the meantime, this whiny, nasally acting voice combined with that shit he called “hair” sitting atop his head made me want to pimpslap him. I decided that I was going to call Howard’s character Harvey “Rainman”—-no, it’s Harvey Rainman.

Back to “Fighting”: holy crap. How did this shit get a greenlight? How is it that I haven’t written a screenplay and made a ton of money? If this is what’s passing as “entertainment,” then I should be sitting on a pile of money. Whoever “wrote” this clearly decided that what this movie needed to be was a mashup of Tarzan and Rocky. And by mashup, I mean “taking the worst out of both the aforementioned, adding crappy music and calling it a day.”

Channing Tatum, he of the many, many Oscars and impressive acting ability, plays a character named Shawn. Screw that, I’m calling him Tarzan Balboa. Tarzan Balboa is, like, totally chivalrous and kind and shit. That fact is established by him holding the emergency door to the NYC subway open for a handicapped person…and the hordes who see a way to not pay to get on the train. He sells crap on the street, including fake Harry Potter books, which is how he meets Jane Lopez (I think her name was Zulay, but I’m keeping the Tarzan motif going. Work with it, okay?). It’s also how he meets Harvey Rainman.

Blah, blah, blah, stuff happens, Tarzan starts “fighting.” These fights are some of the lamest fights I’ve ever seen committed to film.

But wait, there’s a plot twist—-one quite suited to Howard’s talents—-Jane Lopez used to go with Rainman! Rainman isn’t happy about Jane hooking up with Tarzan…and all of a sudden, Rainman turns into another heavy. This movie has too many heavies already, but I guess that Howard would only be in the movie if he got to play at least a couple of scenes where he was a rat bastard. Oh, and just in case you didn’t realize that Tarzan was totally a chivalrous gentleman of chivalry, he offers to give Jane Lopez part of the $10,000 he won so she could pay her rent. Of course, that little plot point was unceremoniously dropped to shoehorn in Rainman’s “relationship” with Jane and create “conflict.”

OMG, there’s a scene of Harvey Rainman walking…while Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” is playing in the background. Really? Really Terrence Howard? What the fuck? This movie shifted away from Tarzan Balboa and turned into Hustle and Flow-lite. Holy crap, I have no idea what this movie is supposed to be about…but then again, I don’t think the alleged “writers” did either.

The writers also shoehorn a “plot” and some hazily sketched “backstory”** about Tarzan Balboa having to fight some dude who…oh, fuck it. I don’t care. He just has to fight this dude because that’s the only way to end this turgid, lumbering mess of a movie.

Fig. 1: Dude, YOU again? What, do you LIKE playing soulless assholes?

Seriously. If you watched that show “Men of a Certain Age” on TNT, this fool played a hotshot car salesman (in the real world those words would never appear together) who was the antagonist to Andre Braugher’s character. He was the heavy in one of those damn Tyler Perry movies I ranted about. So far, I haven’t seen this guy in anything where he wasn’t playing an inveterate asshole. He’s well on his way to becoming the Michael Beach of the decade.*

So anyway, Tarzan Balboa wins, of course.

Now, why did I call Tatum’s character Tarzan Balboa? As I noted above, this movie read a lot like an updated version of Tarzan (with hip-hop and bastardized usages of Marvin Gaye). Shawn’s New York is a New York of blacks and Latinos who are barely “civilized.” Shawn, for much of the movie, happens to be the only white person we ever see. However, he is able to out-black and out-Latino every person he comes across. Hell, he even winds up beating an “Asian” cat who throws out some vaguely “Asian” fighting moves. In this ghettoized, multicultural concrete jungle, Shawn, a naif who apparently has no formal training in fighting, is able to “rise” to the top of the heap by defeating a Latino, an Asian, and finally, a black man. Amazing! Amazingly transparent in its stupidity, that is.

*Seriously–for a while there, if you saw Michael Beach’s name in the credits of a tv show or movie, you could pretty much guarantee he’d be playing an asshole of some sort. I think his character in Soul Food really put him on the path to character toolishness. Black women across America really began to hate him after he played a ginormous douche who cheated on Angela Bassett in “Waiting To Exhale.”

**How do we get this backstory between Tarzan and That Black Guy He Has to Fight? We got it through an internet search conducted by Jane…on her sleek, new PC in the apartment on which Jane is behind rent. Wait, what? How is—-? Huh? How in the hot hell can you afford a big screen TV, a pretty up-to-date computer, and, apparently, high-speed internet service and yet be behind on the rent? Was Jane living in a TARDIS and I missed that important plot point?

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