The title refers to the duller half of this comedy of the sexes, a nice guy with dreams who woos a cautious lady who has been "played" too many times. But it's their devious best friends who steal the movie in Trimark Pictures' amiable "Sprung".
The third film from co-writer/director/co-star Rusty Cundieff
("Tales From the Hood", "Fear of a Black Hat"), "Sprung" will score with black audiences and win the filmmaker more fans. Crossover business should be negligible given the lackluster marketing, but its rap will be successful in ancillary formats.
In the lusty, romantic tale of four friends, Cundieff's restrained approach to the love affair between his honest, sensitive character and Tisha Campbell
's tough-talking, independent woman adds some traditional machinations and pacing to the loosely plotted farce. Their motivations are obvious, but beyond looking terrific, alas, they are dull folks.
Not so their best friends. Brandy (Campbell) and her voluptuous, gold digger gal-pal Adina Paula Jai Parker
) are on the hunt for men, but the latter's unfailing radar system (complete with on-screen graphics) can spot all the wrong types and they grow discouraged. In a snappy send-off, the four principals cross paths at a party, with best friends Montel (Cundieff) and Clyde (Joe Torry
) arriving in a borrowed Porsche.
Thinking she's nabbed a guy with a "wide" one (wallet, that is), Adina drives off with Clyde. She grows suspicious when he takes her to his ugly apartment, but they still go for broke in one of the rowdiest, naughtiest sex scenes in recent memory.
Adina finds out soon after that Clyde is a fraud and they break up in spectacular fashion, leading to his arrest for lewd conduct and a marvelously risque police lineup sequence, with veteran funnyman John Witherspoon
as a knuckleheaded detective. Adina and Clyde have no regrets, but they fear seeing each other in the future if Brandy and Montel become a real couple.
The devilish duo of Adina and Clyde try simple schemes first and then turn to hardball tactics to derail their friends' relationship.
Cundieff can't resist getting in a comment about how black cinema is dominated by violence, but he needs to work harder as a performer to succeed on his own terms. As a director, he displays solid craftsmanship but little cinematic vision, acceptable for a modest project such as this.
A Darin Scott production
In association with Trimark Prods.
A Rusty Cundieff
Director Rusty Cundieff
Producer Darin Scott
Writers Rusty Cundieff
, Darin Scott
Executive producer Mark Amin
Director of photography Joao Fernandes
Editor Lisa Bromwell
Production designer Terrence Foster
Music Stanley Clarke
Costume designer Tracey White
Casting Tony Lee
Brandy Tisha Campbell
Montel Rusty Cundieff
Adina Paula Jai Parker
Clyde Joe Torry
Detective John Witherspoon
Veronica Jennifer Lee
Running time -- 109 minutes
MPAA rating: R