IN THE MIX
After New York club DJ Darrell Williams (Usher Raymond) saves the life of mob boss and family friend Frank Pacelli (Chazz Palminteri) during a shootout, he is rewarded with the task of guarding Frank's daughter Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui). While they have been apart for seven years, Darrell and Dolly were childhood friends, and they soon become attracted to each other, despite the objections of her boyfriend Chad (Geoff Stults). Meanwhile, Frank is dealing with the prospect of a possible mob war with his rival, Salvatore Vincenzo (Nick Mancuso).
Review by Lesley Chow:
This vehicle for the R'n'B singer Usher plays like an extended music video, although it's an unusually old-fashioned one. Usher's own clips tend to be feats of precise editing and art direction, but In the Mix has all the elements of the 80s video: lovers slowly torn apart by authority figures, a showdown beneath a disco ball, and even a camera that lingers on the face of the heroine's stodgy fiancé. As such, it's an agreeably over-the-top experience, with its odd mix of camp and G-rated romance: the hero is a "walking Cosmo cover" who enters a life of spas, shopping and yoga classes while being lusted over by every girl he meets.
Chazz Palminteri makes an entertaining Mafioso, and the rest of the cast is the usual crowd of heavies: Nick Mancuso and ex-Bond villain Robert Davi. As for Usher, he's remarkably relaxed for a fledgling actor: he moves easily and is not intimidated by the camera, which is half the battle. However, as far as singer/rappers go, he lacks the verbal authority of, say, LL Cool J or even Sean Combs, and is certainly not convincing as a man who creates a "ten woman pile-up" everywhere he goes.
While there's little chemistry between him and Emmanuelle Chriqui, the camera does its best to generate some heat - for instance, by taking blurred shots of their bodies underwater. Refreshingly, the "interracial" romance is treated so lightly it's a non-issue, although some of the lines have to be heard to be believed: "If growin' up in the hood is so dangerous, why is it I only get shot by white people?" With its laughable dramatic sequences and goofy supporting characters (a Mafia son who insists on talking "ghetto" with his family), this film is hard to dismiss as entertainment: a camp treat for comics as well as Usher fans.
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IN THE MIX (M)
CAST: Usher Raymond, Chazz Palmintiri, Emmanuelle Chirqui, Robert Costanzo, Robert Davi, Matt Gerald, Anthony Fazio, Kevin Hart, Geoff Stults, Isis Faust
PRODUCER: John Dellaverson
DIRECTOR: Ron Underwood
SCRIPT: Jacqueline Zambrano
CINEMATOGRAPHER: J. Clark Mathis
EDITOR: Don Brochu
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cynthia Kay Charette
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 4, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: November 29, 2006