Last Tuesday I received and accepted my first invitation to prescreen a new movie – an independent film called The Obama Effect. It’s written and directed by Charles S. Dutton and stars some pretty notable actors from out of the African American community. I’ll delve into the movie a little further in a bit. First I have to dish on how all of this came to pass.
[If you’d like to skip ahead to the actual review, feel free to scroll down past the break.]
The film topic is only loosely related to parenting or family but I was excited and honored to have received such an invite. Crazily enough though, my first reaction was to turn down the invite and not go. Caring not about what an awesome experience it would be, I was overcome by nerves, and immediately began making excuses to my husband as to why I couldn’t attend.
“I don’t have anything to wear.”
“What about that little black and white dress that you just bought that’s in the back of the closet?”
“What little black and white dress?” I knew very well the one he was speaking of. It was a super cute, flirty little number that I just had to have. I was on a shopping ban though. I guess I was caught. I have to find a new hiding spot.
“I suppose I could wear that.” I played it off hoping to avoid any conflict.
“Well I don’t have one of those little press lanyard thingies that media people wear.”
This excuse was met by a blank stare.
I realized that I had no justifiable reason not to go. I was going to attend, and I was going to make it worth my while.
The event was to take place the day after I received the invite. (It seemed last minute, but upon doing a little research, I discovered that this was customary.) I got ready and made one of my power drinks: a strong cup of coffee with a splash of rum. (Don’t judge me, it works, and was my go-to drink way back when I used to model. Again, don’t judge.)
I had gone out and bought one of those fancy lanyards and slipped my business card inside so that I would feel important. I slid it over my neck to complete the look. It worked, and now I was ready to go.
One of the stars from the movie, Ms. Vanessa Bell Calloway was slated to attend. She was fashionably late in true Hollywood style. She jetted in and took her position on the red carpet to do interviews and take photos with fans. The press was ushered up front to do interviews first. I was nervous, but I had the perfect question:
“You have two kids correct?”
“Yes honey, two girls.”
“Are they impressed by your superstar status or are you just ‘mom’?”
“Girl my kids don’t care. They don’t even like me half the time.”
We both had a laugh at this.
“Okay, that’s all I have. Thanks” I said quickly. (Hey, that was all I could come up with on the fly. Be proud that I had the balls to ask anything at all.)
After the interview, everyone was ushered in to the theater for the main event: the movie prescreening. Press and VIP’s had reserved seating in the front of the theater. This was something that I could get used to.
Now on to what this article is truly all about: The movie. Here’s the official synopsis [WARNING: It’s a bit of a spoiler]:
A serious health scare ignites John Thomas, an insurance salesman in his 50’s (played by writer/director Charles S. Dutton) to take a closer look at his life. Motivated by a misguided obsession with getting Barack Obama elected, John takes an overwhelming involvement in the Presidential campaign. While John becomes obsessed with the ideal of change that Obama represents for Americans, he has in turn neglected to create positive change in his own life, particularly with regard to his health and familial relationships.
John hides his health problems from his strong, yet supportive wife, Molly (Vanessa Bell Calloway), creating a strain on their marriage. John seeks the support of a Republican relative, MLK (Katt Williams), who initially starkly resists supporting a Democratic candidate. John’s son, Kalil (Wesley Jonathan), rebels against his father’s avid support of Obama by supporting the Republican candidate as well. John neglects to support his daughter, Tamika (Megan Good) at a crucial moment in her life, as she has recently fallen in love and become engaged to be married.
John faces additional discord with his other son, Jamel, an up-and-coming boxer (Zab Judah), who gets mixed up with a shady manager, Slim (Glynn Turman), as he rises toward a professional boxing career. Joshua, John’s recently-paroled brother (C.J. Mack), also struggles as he attempts to find work in a tough economy and to maintain his new marriage. When Molly discovers that John has been hiding his health scares from her, she urges him to take positive action to improve his bad habits. John works to get back on the right path with his health and family as Obama soars to success in the campaign.
My opinions? Brace yourself:
First, I felt the film seemed late in its debut. It was filmed four years ago, but for some mysterious reason wasn’t released until now. I’m not sure if the film was held in order to use it as some sort of pro-Obama propaganda for the upcoming election, or if Charles S. Dutton simply wrote it to address the almost unhealthy Obama obsession that many African Americans displayed during the 2008 presidential campaign. Who knows? Whatever the case, I felt that it would have been more appropriate to have released it four years ago.
Secondly, Charles S. Dutton’s character was absolutely insane. From him having Obama hallucinations to his maniacal almost frenzied attempts at getting his friends and family to join in his campaigning – at points it became almost painful to watch.
I completely understood what his overzealous behavior represented: an intense need for change; but it was done in such a manner that during certain moments it felt like outright buffoonery. Again, I’m not exactly sure if it was for satirical effect, or if Charles S. Dutton himself is indeed insane. Either way, his character was spastic and just plain weird.
Katt Williams’ character was the comedic relief of the movie, and ultimately the person who was cast to bring a little levity and “festivity” to what would normally be heavy content. He did exactly what he was meant to do; but the role that he played was so indiscriminate that I again was confused as to what exactly the movie was supposed to represent.
The movie hit theaters in limited release this past Friday the 13th. Have a go-see and form your own opinions. If nothing else, you can definitely count on being entertained.
The Obama Effect is now available for Pre-Order on Amazon.com. To get your copy of The Obama Effect on DVD, buy it here:
The film is also available on VOD.