Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Freedomland (2006)


This movie is dumb as ass. That's kind of a given, seeing as how Joe "Christmas with the Kranks" Roth is directing. What's niggling about this film isn't its idiocy (i.e. Samuel L. Jackson suddenly deciding he doesn't believe Julianne Moore despite never having been given a reason not to; Samuel L.'s character saddled with asthma for no reason at all) but its social irresponsibility. Freedomland has an A plot and a B plot like many films do. The A plot is about Moore's missing son, and the B plot is about the racial tensions in the impoverished neighborhood where much of the film takes place. The two plots don't dovetail so much as they run on parallel yet independent tracks, so that the culmination of the A plot and the culmination of the B plot take place temporally but not situationally close to one another. Yet here's the thing: The climax of the B plot involves a brutal race riot. We see the riot, we see SWAT police and black people going at it, we see shit burning down, we see Samuel L. get whacked on the noggin. Then the scene fades and... nothing. The movie continues, but the riot is forgotten. It happened and nobody cares. The message, then, comes off as "Y'know, them black peoples is allas gonna riot 'n' break stuff so whynt just letem burn their own shit down, y'all... we'll look the oth'r way." I wasn't pleased with the clumsy racial politics of Crash, but I give it credit for trying to stare its subject in the face. The question is, which is more offensive: attempting to tackle a thorny social issue and failing laughably, or using that same issue as window dressing for another damn film about the difficulties of parenting? On another note: what the fuck happened, Julianne? This is, like, your worst performance ever. Part of it has to be how the character is written, but damn. Over the top much?

Grade: C-


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