Wednesday, May 17, 2000

Held Up

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2000 at 12:00 AM

Jamie Foxx follows up his impressive dramatic supporting role performance in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday with a less-than-impressive lead role in the silly romantic comedy Held Up.

Although "silly bordering on stupid" works in the hands of the Farrelly brothers, the same can’t be said for this script in the hands of director Steve Rash. Because of Foxx’s undeniable comedic talent, some of the situations and dialogue at the movie’s onset successfully trigger a few laughs, but they’re short lived because Foxx alone can’t be expected to pull off the film’s remaining 80 minutes of ridiculous plot, script and comedically inept cast-mates.

The other exception is Nia Long, who plays Foxx’s girlfriend. Unfortunately, her screen time providing humorous banter with Foxx is brief and when she departs so too does most of what could qualify as comedy – although even their scenes together are a stretch.

Maybe describing the film’s premise will help to make clear its shortcomings. Mike Dawson’s (Foxx) bad day (of getting into a fight with his girlfriend who abandons him) gets even worse when his classic sports car is stolen and he finds himself in the middle of Western small-town hell. While he’s phoning in the theft from a convenience store, the store is held up and Dawson becomes one of several hostages. Stupid criminals, keystone cops and fellow hostages who mistake him for Puff Daddy and Mike Tyson soon surround Dawson. With all that ridiculousness going on, he can’t help but become the bungling hero, and moviegoers can’t help getting bored.

Although Held Up doesn’t make the mistake of becoming racially offensive, it does make the mistake of becoming obscure among the rash of bad "black" comedies. Playing up negative stereotypes or, as in this case, plopping a black comedian in the center of a basically stupid movie with a silly storyline – including white people who are limited in their exposure to blacks – has little appeal to audiences of any color.

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