In the Mix (2005) / Thriller-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, language and sexuality
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Usher, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Chazz Palminteri, Robert Davi, Robert Costanzo, Matt Gerald, Anthony Fazio, Kevin Hart, Geoff Stults, Isis Faust, Nick Mancuso, Chris Tardio, K.D. Aubert, Deezer D, 4Mula1 (cameo)
Director: Ron Underwood
Screenplay: Jacqueline Zambrano
Pretty much a fluff vanity piece for Usher (The Faculty, Texas Rangers), whereby he gets to be ogled by all of the ladies, envied by all of the men, all the while being a lover and a fighter in equal measure, In the Mix is, like the R&B and Hip Hop songs that permeate the soundtrack, a pure urban fantasy for young men of Usher's age and station. Just as comfortable out on the dance floor as he is rubbing elbows with the town's most notorious mobsters, Usher is depicted as the embodiment of ghetto cool, although it's the kind of pipe dream that could only be concocted by someone that gets their notions of how New York's underworld operates from watching shows like "The Sopranos" and "New York Undercover".
Usher plays one of the most gifted and popular club DJs in the city of New York, Darrell, a ladies man with apparent mob ties, as his father was a close friend of Frank (Palminteri, Poolhall Junkies), one of the mob's most feared and revered dons. Frank's beloved daughter Dolly (Chriqui, Rick) is returning home from college, so Darrell is hired on to DJ the shindig for free, ending up being the family hero when a drive-by shooting occurs, resulting in Darrell heroically taking the bullet that may have been meant for Frank. Signs point to a rival family, although they claim no knowledge of the attempted hit, and with a mob war looming, Frank fears for Dolly's well being, insisting that she take on a bodyguard. Knowing it will irk her overly protective father, Dolly chooses Darrell to be her permanent escort, but his charms prove difficult to resist, and soon the entire plan may become compromised by suspicions, fears and doubts.
The drama is trite, the romance routine, and the dialogue inane, leaving In the Mix as a completely forgettable misfire that should never have been allowed to be released anywhere but television, if it even had to be made at all. As big a draw as Usher may be to see live on stage, his appeal certainly doesn't translate into movies well, as he doesn't sing, and only dances for only a few seconds of screen time. All he has to offer is a smile, a toned body, and some modest acting talent, but without the fact that he is a successful recording artist, the contrivance that every single woman that lays their eyes on him going absolutely gaga with physical attraction seems absurd.
Rife with stereotypes, In the Mix is a movie even I could have written, and I wouldn't have even had to bother doing any research into how club DJs or mafia families operate. Everything I need to learn could come right from watching other movies that cover the same ground. The "wigga" character played by Anthony Fazio is perhaps the most grating of all, like the bastard son of Brian from Gigli and Screech from "Saved by the Bell". The fact that they need to surround Usher with males that are either too old or too mentally deficient for young girls to find attractive makes it obvious why women are practically begging for his attention; they are apparently fighting for the only available male worth procreating with in all of New York City.
Everything you need to know about the movie can come from the promotional poster they sent out, depicting a well-dressed Usher being groped by the hands of several anonymous women all attempting to get a piece of clothing off. Perhaps a better poster would have shown Usher removing his clothing in front of a full length mirror, as the one true love affair embodied by the entire production is Usher's own for his heavily marketed playboy image. Strictly for Usher's most unabashed fans.
©2005 Vince Leo