Nov 2, 2005 at 12:00 am

Just the very notion of a hip-hop retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s glitzy Jazz Age tragedy The Great Gatsby is enough to raise the eyebrows. G could have been brilliantly groundbreaking — but it’s not.

There’s plenty of unintentional comedy in this all-too-serious and self-important tale of steamy passion at the Hamptons retreat of a Jay-Z-style mogul. Nakedly ambitious journalist Tre (Andre Royo) has been dispatched to the lavish enclave of the reclusive Summer G (Richard T. Jones), armed with a tape recorder and a notebook full of such probing questions such as, “Does hip hop have heart?”

Tre is staying at the home of his cousin Sky (Chenoa Maxwell), who, conveniently enough, had an affair with G a decade ago, and is still hung up on him. Tre casually arranges a reunion of the old flames, but this doesn’t sit well with Sky’s boorish shit of a husband, Chip (Blair Underwood). Chip tries to align the neighboring Hamptonites to have G booted out of the posh area; also, conveniently enough, Chip’s father owns the magazine Tre writes for, and threatens to have Tre fired. All the while, there’s a tangled web of romances and feuds among G’s cronies, with enough overly dramatic subplots to put an entire season of Days of our Lives to shame.

It’s all obviously headed to a violent conclusion — which winds up as a bloody and thoroughly unsatisfying finish. Underwood clearly relishes the role of the villain, and it’s fun to watch him chewing scenery in a collection of swanky suits. The rest of the cast is uniformly lousy — though, in their defense, they haven’t been handed material worth reciting. G aims for an updated epic tragedy, but manages only stuffy melodrama and witless soul searching. Fitzgerald is surely rolling in his grave.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].