Meet the Blacks

Posted by Joel Copling on March 31, 2016

"Meet the Blacks" would be offensive if it wasn't so imprecise in its chief satirical aim. One would think that's the very easy target of 2013's "The Purge," a lousy horror/thriller hybrid that took its central premise (a government that allows its constituents to unleash violent acts once per year without any punishment) and fashioned it into a generic home-invasion effort. Alas, here is a lousy semi-parody that takes the source material and transforms it into an frightfully uncomfortable experience. Screenwriters Deon Taylor (who also directed) and Nicole DeMasi use the opportunity to comment on the perilous racial tension that currently plagues the country.

There is no reason that this couldn't have resulted in amusement, but Taylor and DeMasi seem to go out of their way to make it the opposite. Perhaps it's the bartering in the worst black stereotypes that exist, such as our protagonist being a violent, unstable criminal or his "buddy" and the film's central source of comic relief (who is, of course, neither funny nor a relief) being introduced as a pervy creep who likes to masturbate rather openly to our protagonist's wife. Or perhaps it's the part of the movie that makes light of the February 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin to offer a parody of George Zimmerman, whose counterpart here utters the sentence, "It's time to get rid of the blacks."

Well, ok, technically "blacks" is supposed to have the first letter capitalized, because "Black" is the surname of our central family of intended Purge victims. There's the dad, Carl (Mike Epps, who seems to be ad-libbing all of his dialogue to very little success), whose backstory involves a crime that he helped to commit but, because crime pays, resulted in him buying a lavish house for his family. There's the wife, Lorena (Zulay Henao), who exists here to be objectified in some way because she's hot. There are kids, too: Allie (Bresha Webb) keeps trying to have sex with her visiting boyfriend Freezee (Andrew Bachelor), and Carl Jr. (Alex Henderson) spends the entire time dressed in a vampire costume.

There is nothing to make us care about this family because none of them is remotely likable, although Carl and his friend Tyrone (DeRay Davis), the pervy one who was recently in jail for two years, are trying to go legit, so apparently that's supposed to suffice. When the Purge starts, the film offers a series of random threats from the likes of Charlie Murphy as the gang member to whom Carl owes a debt, Perez Hilton as one of the many white (which, here, means racist, by the way) intruders, and Mike Tyson as "James Clown." Taylor bungles any attempts at humor with his incompetent handling of the material present in "Meet the Blacks," but the material wasn't funny to begin with. It's a shame.

Film Information

Mike Epps (Carl Black), Zulay Henao (Lorena Black), Bresha Webb (Allie Black), Alex Henderson (Carl Black Jr.), DeRay Davis (Tyrone), Charlie Murphy (Key Flo), Andrew Bachelor (Freezee), Mike Tyson (James Clown), Perez Hilton (Denis Strahan), George Lopez (President El Bama).

Directed by Deon Taylor and written by Taylor and Nicole DeMasi.

Rated R (pervasive language, sexual material, violence, drug use).

90 minutes.

Released on April 1, 2016.