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Tracee Ellis Ross
In The Seat Filler, Derrick (Martin) is a struggling law student who takes a job as an awards show seatfiller to make ends meet. One day, he is seated next to the beautiful pop superstar Jnelle (Rowland), who mistakes him for a well-known industry executive. With an instant chemistry, the unlikely pair begin to date. But Derrick must scale creative heights to keep up the charade. When the couple begins to fall for each other, Derrick must chose between his conscience and the love of his life. Written by
My name is Vicki Curtis. And you are here to be Seat Fillers. Your job is to make sure the audience never looks empty. Because without you it would look like missing teeth. We, ladies and gentlemen, we complete the smile of Hollywood. All right ya bunch of nobodies, pull out your Seat Filler rule books and read along with me. No chewing gum. No bright colors. No hats, cellphones, or pagers. No gassy foods the night before. And never ever remove your blue ribbon, it's how we ...
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Somewhat Predictable, but Strengthened by Good Acting
The plot of "The Seat Filler", when you strip it down to its basic components, is just the same as dozens of other romantic comedies. If you know the basic structure of the "boy meets girl" story, especially if it more specifically entails "boy meets girl, then pretends to be someone he's not even though he's being himself the whole time", you pretty much know how the story will go.
That being said, however, this romantic comedy holds its own based solely on the strength of intriguing characters, witty dialog, and overall noteworthy acting from most, if not all, involved.
Duane Martin, who also co-wrote and produced this movie, really makes a great leading man, and does very well as a character that many people, regardless of race, can relate to. He's very funny in this movie, and he has a very genuine down-to-earth charm that had me root for him throughout the entire movie. If you don't believe he's a good actor, it should be noted that Martin, although he played a man in his late 20's, is actually in his early 40's. He was so convincing, he could play a man a decade and a half his junior! That says something. It really does.
DeRay Davis, whose face is more familiar than his name, is also gut-bustingly hilarious as E.J., Martin's fast-talking, wise-cracking roommate. Davis's precise comic timing makes up for some slight plot holes regarding his situation. Specifically, it's never fully determined how the both of them are able to afford the apartment they're in. E.J. appears to be making as much money, if not less, than Martin's character Derrick, and he doesn't appear to have too much ambition to make any more money. But this technicality could be explained in other ways, too, I suppose.
Kelly Rowland is admittedly less experienced in acting than Martin, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in credibility. Rowland in this movie plays someone who should not feel completely unfamiliar to her: a successful solo R&B artist. It's not clarified in this movie how big a star she is, whether she is a crossover success or not. It's true that she's famous enough to have people take pictures of her on the red carpet, and to afford a house as big as she has.
It is certain that Rowland has an incredible charm to her. She is incredibly beautiful, but she also has an ability to be so down to earth you just love her to death. I know I did. Rowland gets compared to Beyonce all the time, which isn't hard to figure out. However, Rowland may actually have a stronger gift for acting than her former bandmate which, should it be honed further, could result in a greater screen roles for her. Although Rowland shows some inexperience in this role, she shows a lot of promise.
It was surprising to see other supporting acting performances here from those who could have been in bigger movies, such as Kyla Pratt ("Fat Albert", "Dr. Doolittle") and Melanie Brown (formerly known as Scary Spice of the Spice Girls). They are experienced, but they fortunately don't try too hard to steal scenes or overact. That's pretty notable, and it's what makes this low-budget film a lot more memorable than some paltry big budget black comedies such as "Are We Done Yet" or "College Road Trip".
Others may be impressed by the cameos in this movie by the likes of Chante Moore, Kenny Lattimore, and Eriq La Salle. They are impressive, but the acting really carries this film. I found this movie at a video rental store, and I bought it used. It was indeed a worthwhile investment, and a movie I will probably go back to again and again. Sure it was predictable, but the acting really carried this movie. So I am recommending it.
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