Hook'd Up (1999) / Comedy-Romance
(aka Personals)

MPAA Rated: R for language and some adult humor
Running Time: 89 min.

Cast: Malik Yoba, Damian D. Lewis, Delilah Cotto, Stacey Dash, Jim Gaffigan, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rhonda Ross Kendrick
Director:  Mike Sargent
Screenplay: Mike Sargent

Review published July 20, 2003

One of the many hidden gems out there in independent films, never really finding a distributor and heading straight to your video store, don't assume that Hook'd Up (aka Personals in its initial film festival release) is some cheapie sex comedy.  Quite the contrary, it actually is an entertaining look at the dating scene as it relates to personals ads, specifically targeting the New York African-American female archetypes, in all of their variegated forms. 

Malik Yoba (of Cool Runnings and TV's "New York Undercover") stars as a recently unemployed reported for New York's alternative newspaper, The Village Voice.  Out of a job, and now losing his girlfriend, he tries to make amends with both to no avail.  A helpful suggestion from a friend creates an idea to get his job and life back, by writing memoirs about his experiences dating different women through personal ads left in the paper, in the hopes that the story will reinstate his old job.

There's not much to the story except the shallow premise, but Mike Sargent's smart and snappy script keeps the atmosphere lively and the characters cheerfully eccentric.  When filtering through so many women, the tendency is to stick to some obvious stereotypes, so don't go into this expecting to see something you haven't seen before.  However, Yoba performs quite well reacting to all of the different, and sometimes crazy, women he meets, and does so without the usual hamming, trite spit-takes, or knowing glances at the camera that bad comedians are prone to do in the same situations.  Although Stacey Dash (Clueless) gets second billing, she only has two scenes, and doesn't appear until two thirds into the film.

Even though Hook'd Up runs its course on a fairly meager budget, Sargent knows his limitations, so the film never suffers from looking like it's cheap or hurriedly slapped together.  Some parts work better than others, and there is an occasional lull now and then, especially when the film veers into the course of seriousness, but things always bounce back in time to keep your interest.  Definitely worth a look for those who like light and witty films about the trials and tribulations of dating in the modern world.

Qwipster's rating:

2003 Vince Leo