Tuesday, May 5, 2009

AB Goes To The Movies - Obsessed.

Matthew Knowles has a Master Plan For World Domination. Step One was getting his daughter in a strategically created incubator (Destiny's Child) before unleashing her as a mutliplatinum solo recording artist. Step Two was getting his wife to sew a collection of ragtag, tacky sh*t (House Of Dereon) that would end up on clearance racks at Ross Dress For Less stores nationwide. Step Three, making his aforementioned daughter a fullblown movie star has proven to be somewhat more challenging.[1]

Beyoncé Knowles is someone you either hate or love. Personally, I love her drive and work ethic, it's something anyone with ambition should mimic. Her acting, on the other hand, is iffy at best. From 2001's Carmen: A Hip Hopera, to the godawful The Fighting Temptations, turning the corner to The Big Screen has been iffy. Her big break in Dreamgirls was overshadowed by an American Idol reject. She lacked depth and gravitas when she tried to play Etta James in Cadillac Records. For someone so talented an entertainer, she's so incredibly wooden and contrived as an actress. This odd paradox is no more evident than in her newest star vehicle, Obsessed.

If you've seen the previews, or ever tuned to LifeTime Movies For Women, you can prolly already figure this one out. Knowles plays Sharon, wife of Derek Charles, a successful asset manager (The Wire's Idris Elba) who's just gotten a huge promotion and bought his growing family a big new house in the burbs. This idyllic American Dream is endangered when Derek's new temp Lisa (Ali Larter, of NBC's Heroes) misinterprets his passing kindness and becomes overly obsessed with him. The standard chiche'd suspense/thriller hijinx ensue.

I can't call this movie bad by any stretch. It's pretty interesting, mostly because Elba's character is a total and complete moron. For a guy who's already under suspicion (Sharon was his temp, then office fling before becoming his wife) of on-the-job affairs, the way he leads Lisa on as if he's clueless, makes an otherwise color-by-numbers movie palatable. Elba is trying to make the transition from typecast drug dealer to universal leading man, and he acquits himself well in Obsessed. Ditto for Larter, who plays the now shopworn "crazy jumpoff" role to perfection. The two of them save this movie from what would have likely been straight-to-DVD oblivion.

The same can't be said for Knowles, who still couldn't deliver a line if she worked for AT&T. She gets to spout such epic dialogue as "You think you know crazy? I'll show you crazy. Try me, b**ch!" and "I'm gonna wipe the floor with your skinny a**." Woohoo, clear room on the mantel for that Oscar, Mama Tina. Thankfully, despite having top billing, her screen time is kept to a minimum. Hallelujah!

Interestingly, for a movie that involves a black man being accused of sexual impropriety by a white woman, the subject of race is nonexistent. This could have been a powderkeg issue that might have added an additional wrinkle to an otherwise already-told tale. It also might have driven a decent movie straight to ClicheVille. My feeling is, the movie is somewhat refreshing because it sidestepped race. Then again, that's just me.

Anyone expecting ghetto version of Fatal Attraction will prolly be a bit underwhelmed with this movie. As the scorned lover, Larter boils no bunnies, nor does she attack Beyonce's weave with a chef's knife. Glenn Close she isn't, but that doesn't mean this is a bad way to blow your disposable income.

Final Verdict: Matthew Knowles wins again. Beyonce executive produced this one, and it pulled a better than expected $28M opening weekend, largely off her name recognition. Let's see Kelly Rowland top that one. 3 Stars (Out Of 5)

Question: Have you seen Obsessed? What did you think?

[1] Step Four: Convincing us that Solange has any discernable talent. Good luck with that one, buddy.

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