Black stars in summer blockbusters
Gail Choice | 6/18/2009, 5 p.m.
Studios appear to be cashing in on the big summer blockbusters, from bringing back old favorites to introducing us to new superheroes, the box office bingo is revving up. More and more black actors are being featured in roles that give them a major presence to a wider film audience. This understandably is great for their careers, but more importantly it opens doors for an even bigger slice of the Hollywood pie for ethnic entertainers in future major studio films.
"Get Smart" is back with Steve Carell ("Evan Almighty," "The 40 Year Old Virgin") as Maxwell Smart, the secret agent that can't seem to get it right. Carell brings a new kind of charm to the character, very sincere, and somewhat flawed, but who eventually gets the job done.
What makes this movie stand out even more is the addition of Secret Agents 23 and 91. Dwayne Johnson ("The Game Plan," "The Scorpion King") stars as Agent 23, a very debonair, and by-the-books super agent who happens to be the idol of Maxwell Smart. Johnson looks dashing as the hard core super agent whose comedic timing seems to improve with each film. Clearly Johnson is proving he's a versatile actor, not trying to lockdown in particular image.
TV's "Everybody Hates Chris" Terry Crews ("Street Kings," "Balls of Fury") is Agent 91. Crews has an ingenious way of reacting to a situation, sometimes without words that make you laugh, keep your eyes on him as he works along side Maxwell Smart and Agent 23. Crews, a former NFL player for such teams as the L.A. Rams, San Diego Chargers, and the Washington Redskins made his small screen debut on the 1999 sports entertainment show "Battle Dome." His experience on the briefly aired show convinced him that a showbiz career in front on the camera was the way to go, he's a TV favorite on the hit CW series, and he's becoming a favorite of film directors too.
Arch rivals for world domination, Control and KAOS are back. Naturally we're still rooting for Control, that group of secret agents battling evil with comic twists. Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine") is excellent as 'The Chief' of Control, trying to keep his team under control. When KAOS, headed by the notoriously evil Siegfried (Terence Stamp, "Star Wars: Episode 1") divulges the identities of its agents, and sparks rumblings of war around the world, the Chief has no choice but to promote Smart as a Secret Agent. Smart hopes to be partnered with Agent 23 (Johnson) but is instead partnered with the so-called lovely-but-lethal veteran Agent 99 played Anne Hathaway ("The Devil Wears Prada"). She's as tough as she is beautiful, and the two make an incredibly funny team.
"The Love Guru" also hits the big screen. And just this week, television viewers got a chance to see the black stars in commercials that will appear in the film, namely Romany Malco ("The 40 Year Old Virgin") and Meagan Good ("Stomp the Yard").
Mike Myers ("Shrek," "Austin Powers") stars as Pitka, an American raised outside his country by gurus, he returns to the States in order to break into the self-help business, and what better business than to become a love guru. The lovely Jessica Alba ("Fantastic Four," "Honey") hires him to bring the love back to her star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Malco). It seems his wife Prudence (Good) has left him for a rival hockey player, Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake).
This film has a great deal of funny moments as only a Mike Myers film can guarantee, what's interesting is the casting of Malco as a hockey player, when most people believe hockey is one of the last sports white athletes dominate. And it's good to see Meagan Good in a mainstream film during a time period when a wider audience can be reached. It's time she landed major leading roles.
"Get Smart" and "The Love Guru" both hit theaters this Friday, get your laugh on, check out both of these films.
- Gail Choice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.