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Black and White

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Race relations is one issue Americans have never been able to deal with effectively. Black and White, a film that tries to examine cultural curiosity but fails miserably, proves how complicated this task remains. Writer-director James Toback (Two Girls and a Guy) creates an environment in which rich white kids fascinated by black culture hang out with rap cats infected with jungle fever. But the film quickly loses its focus and abruptly flips into a crime saga with a hip-hop backdrop set in Manhattan. Brooke Shields and Robert Downey Jr. play documentarians capturing the confusing ordeal, but the film's irritating improvisational feel makes the approach come across more like soft porn. The messy story lines (and there are many) are as scattered as broken glass and confusing as a jigsaw puzzle that is missing pieces. The cast is a ridiculous mix of talented actors (Ben Stiller and Elijah Wood) trapped in an uncomfortable experience where rappers (Raekwon), pro athletes (Allan Houston), and models (Claudia Schiffer) turn novice acting tricks in front of the camera. Example: Fighter Mike Tyson has a major role playing himself but blows his lines. The film's only redeeming moment is when Tyson and Downey Jr. square off in a scene so poorly executed that it's actually entertaining. Unfortunately, the rest of this sexist and borderline racist travesty is not as intriguing. (R) Rating: 1

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