Saturday, July 5, 2014

Merry Effin' Christmas: "Scrooge in the Hood" (2011)

Since retail outlets set their Christmas decorations earlier and earlier every year (I'm in retail, I know this), why not watch a Christmas comedy with almost six months until the holiday?

The tried and true Charles Dickens story, "A Christmas Carol," which has been produced hundreds if not thousands of times on stage, film, and television, gets yet another treatment courtesy of Richard Chandler. Here, Scrooge is an African-American gangsta pimp played by George Raynor (who fails to take advantage of his Redd Foxx-style delivery in the role). In addition to the three ghosts (an okay Seregon O'Dassey, a less-than-okay Todd Thierren, and director/writer Richard Chandler) who take Scrooge through his past, present, and future, Scrooge is also being hunted by the Jewish Mafia, who play on both Jewish and Italian stereotypes.

The film is foul-mouthed, appealing to the lowest humor denominator it can muster. It is also shockingly violent, with gunshots to the head and tongues being cut out. That is all well and good, the Dickens story needs a good edgy treatment ("Scrooged" wasn't exactly satirical fare, turning treacly). However, "Scrooge in the Hood" cannot seem to decide what it wants to be. A grindhouse throwback? A Lisa Lampanelli stand-up routine come to life? Some men play some women's roles without any explanation. The sets are obviously actual apartments and basements. The video effects are okay considering the budget. Actors trip over each other's lines, the editing is a little spotty, and once it blows it's wad over it's own dangerousness, it kind of bogs down thanks to the overly familiar story.

I wanted to like "Scrooge in the Hood." From the preview, I was ready to laugh out loud. Instead, I was bored. There is a great comedy that should be made from this germ of an idea, but this film is not it. (*) out of five stars.