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12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A huge mess of a movie

3/10
Author: (stevenfallonnyc@yahoo.com) from NYC
11 November 2005

This film is a disaster.

The big plus here is Kevin Hooks, who plays high school basketball player Morris Thorpe in one of the greatest shows ever, The White Shadow. He even plays school basketball here!

However, this is an extremely lightweight film where nothing much ever goes on. There are many scenes for instance of the young couple just walking and playing around, all that sort of thing, whether they are alone or with Aaron's friend and her friend, who seem to end up as a couple themselves later on, but that's simply not explained at all. But plenty of other things aren't explained either.

For instance, the local drug dealer/pimp ("Bo"), in some scenes he's pushing Aaron against a wall in his building being tough (why?), and in another he's in Aaron's dad's coffee shop giving the dad a very hard time and making fun of him (why?). Then in other scenes, Bo saves Aaron from Puerto Rican toughs, offers to take his hooker around the world when he doesn't have to, and gives Aaron a suitcase full of money (as Bo is dying). What's his story? Who knows? There is a supposed plot line in the film where there is trouble between the blacks and Puerto Ricans because Aaron (black) is dating Angela (Puerto Rican, or "Latina" for today's PC audience). A few times early on, when Aaron talks to his buddy about liking Angela, there's some talk about how she's "one of them." But after a scene where Aaron takes Angela home (not to her door, just the street outside a little down the block she insists, for his safety), and he gets chased and a slight beatdown from some Puerto Ricans ("we don't want outsiders with our girls"), there is then nothing more between any conflict between the blacks and Puerto Ricans. As a matter of fact, Aaron even waits for Angela in her doorway with no problem and no fear from any Puerto Ricans. The whole conflict is completely forgotten about.

Aaron and Angela also hide their relationship from their parents. Why? We see Aaron's father a bunch of times, and never once does he mention that he hates Puerto Ricans, or even against Aaron having any girlfriend. There's never a single reason shown why Aaron should hide Angela from his father. Same thing for Angela and her mother, who we never even see. So that whole thing is unexplained.

But all that is pretty much how this mess of a movie goes. Despite all this, there are a few good points of curiosity, mainly cameos from Walt Frazier and Jose Feliciano. Frazier is very unnatural and speaks as if he is reading off cue cards, but seeing him in full 1975 "rich basketball player" regalia complete with cheesy fur and an old Rolls Royce (where he found a parking spot right outside the Garden's stage door) is a blast. Feliciano sings at a club, and he also does a number of songs for the movie, which haven't really lasted over time that well but are pretty good nonetheless.

The actual locations of filming are great to see if you are into gritty 1970's New York City films. NYC was a mess in the 70's and Harlem especially wasn't pretty. There are some good character actors you may recognize in the film. And as far as Irene Cara goes, she's a little less than OK, a little pretty, but she doesn't deliver a knockout punch on screen or anything. She's obviously not as good on screen as the actor playing Aaron. Her friend who you sometimes see may have been a better choice for the role.

The film picks up just a little bit in the last 15 minutes, as the drug dealers are searching for their suitcase full of cash. There's a great scene where they run down Bo's buddy, a great piece of stuntwork done before stupid computer effects came long. It's a great shot that adds the the grittiness even more. The "livery" plates on the drug dealer's limo is a funny thing.

One funny thing is Aaron's buddy telling the drug dealers where Aaron is at that moment, after they beat it out of him. Aaron was at Grant's Tomb waiting for Angela. Grant's Tomb? Even though it was the truth, how fake did that sound? And the drug dealers bought it immediately? If it was that easy, why didn't Aaron's buddy just lie, and say "The Empire State Building" or "The 4-5-6 subway station at 125th and Lexington?" Seeing Aaron's good buddy reveal where Aaron was, was a letdown.

The end of the film seems to be a cop-out, what exactly happens? Did they run off? Do they go home? Angela warns Aaron that unless he returns the drug dealer's money, they'll be chased down forever all over the world until they are finally found. So what good did throwing the money into the crowd do? Are the drug dealers going to forget about it then, and not search for Aaron? Like everything else in this film, it makes no sense.

The romance, you never get the feeling that their feelings for each other are simmering. Part of it is Cara's wooden acting, but it really never materializes into anything, especially a "Romeo and Juliet" thing, because no one really cares if they are together or not. Another unexplained thing (of so, so many) is how in one scene, Aaron and Angela are in the abandoned building, scared from hearing gunshots, and they run from the building together after Bo, dying, gives Aaron the suitcase of money. But then, right afterwards, Angela isn't taking Aaron's phone calls anymore. Why?? Unbelievable.

So really, there may be a few reasons to watch this film out of curiosity, but this movie is a huge mess.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not quite Shakespeare...

7/10
Author: christophaskell from Denton, Tx
4 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The synopsis claims, `It's a classic Romeo and Juliet story of forbidden passion, Harlem style, when AARON LOVES ANGELA.' If the idea was to remake Shakespeare, director Gordon Parks Jr. (the same Parks from Superfly fame) failed miserably. There is no tragedy, or forbidden love, and no one vital to the story dies. If the idea was to make a film about growing up and those choices we make when we're young that help us to grow, it succeeds fairly well. Aaron (Kevin Hooks) is a talented basketball player who lives with his father (played convincingly by Moses Gunn), a former All-American who never made it and is living out his dreams through his son. We know nothing about Angela's (introducing Irene Cara) family other than she lives with her mom. Aaron lives in Harlem, Angela in Spanish Harlem, and naturally they must meet in seclusion; the one time Aaron tries to walk her home he gets chased away. Aaron's friend finds him a room where the two young lovers can go and be in private. Unfortunately, the rundown apartment complex they stay in winds up being the exchange point of a drug deal with some heavy cheese switching hands. Anything else would be spoilers, but Aaron finds himself in a situation where he has to make some major decisions in a short amount of time. Worth a watch if it's ever on TV, but I wouldn't rent it. It's a shame that Gordon Parks Jr. died after only a few films, he showed a unique talent, but never had the budget to really make a splash. Rating : 24 out of 40

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A good idea is terribly wasted here

2/10
Author: (g.zimmerman1@comcast.net) from Lindenwold, New Jersey
5 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An interracial romance blossoms between an African-American boy and a Puerto Rican girl. Given some of the circumstances of the situation (it's 1975 in Harlem), you would think that this would turn out to be a deeply moving story of how true love can transcend racial barriers. As it actually turns out, there is no dissension whatsoever between Aaron and Angela's families and friends. At no point during this movie does their relationship become threatened by any kind of racially motivated hostility, and a close examination of the story as it goes along seems to reveal nothing at all that even stands in the way of Aaron and Angela having a relationship at all. Minorly interesting for its period atmosphere, and for Irene Cara's cute performance of the wise and level-headed Angela, but it's mostly not a very good movie, mainly because of the contrived (and often vague) plot, as well as the writers' seeming unwillingness to work with some of the elements necessary to make a good story from this particular premise.

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