Harvard-educated biotech executive John Henry Jack Armstrong gets fired when he informs on his bosses, launching an investigation into their business dealings by the Securities & Exchange Commission. Branded a whistle-blower and therefore unemployable, Jack desperately needs to make a living. When his former girlfriend Fatima, a high powered businesswoman--and now a lesbian--offers him cash to impregnate her and her new girlfriend Alex, Jack is persuaded by the chance to make easy money. Word spreads and soon Jack is in the baby-making business at $10,000 a try. Lesbians with a desire for motherhood and the cash to spare are lining up to seek his services. But, between the attempts by his former employers to frame him for security fraud and his dubious fathering activities, Jack finds his life, all at once, becoming very complicated. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
It's safe to say that most people don't like Spike Lee. He's a radical, he's racist, and a lot of people don't like his movies. That would explain the 3.3/10 rating for She Hate Me on IMDb, considering most of them haven't seen the film. Either that, or they couldn't handle everything that Lee (and co-screenwriter Michael Genet) put onto the plate. However, Lee could barely handle all of it, and it shows. There's so much for Lee to rant on and make fun of that the movie occasionally lags and feels too heavy for having way too much to talk about. At 138 minutes, it does go on for a little too long, but that's the only way Lee can fit everything he wants to talk about into his movie. Surprisingly, it all has a place, and for the most part works pretty well.
John Henry Armstrong (Anthony Mackie), aka Jack, works for a prestigious drug company whose drug for curing AIDS has just been rejected by the FDA. However, CEO Leland Powell (Woody Harrelson) performs some illegal transactions, causing Jack to blow the whistle and subsequently get fired. Not being able to get a job anywhere else, Jack's broke until his ex-fiancée Fatima (Kerry Washington) comes to him with a plan. For $10,000, he will impregnate her and her partner Alex (Dania Ramirez). He's initially reluctant, but he decides to go ahead. Soon, Fatima brings a bunch of lesbians to his place, all for $10,000 each. Jack has morality issues to deal with, but also, his former company frame him for the corrupt business practices.
From the opening credits, where dollar bills float, ending with a $3 with George W. Bush on it, you know that this movie isn't going to be easy. Lee throws in another attack on Bush later, and he tackles the subjects of corporate corruption, homosexuality, the stereotypes of black men (and women), and the importance of whistleblowing. That definitely is too much material to work with, and it shows. In the film, there's about 45 minutes with no talk of the framing of Jack that's being planned. And there's some funny comedy thrown in, that is quite funny, but makes the film disjointed. One serious scene connects directly to a funny one. It wasn't very balanced. And I could have done without the subplot of Jack's parents. It didn't really lead anywhere. And then everything boils down to a courtroom climax.
However, the film is always fascinating when Lee exposes these things. It's too much for him to handle, as I've said, but what he can throw in coherently is interesting and entertaining. The movie is one of the most entertaining of the year, and during the aforementioned courtroom climax, you're rooting for Jack, because you've been through what he's been through. You recognized the cruelty of the company, so you feel with Jack, and because he's such a normal character, you can go along with what he's feeling and everything unfair that happens to him (which is a lot). Although it's comedic, you understand what he's going through when you see animated sperm with Jack's face on it, when he's too tired to continue with the impregnation.
Mackie does a great job. He does some emotional work, and although in one place or two, it seemed like he was going by the book, he puts in a sympathetic acting job. Washington does a more realistic acting performance, but both are great. They both add to She Hate Me, a somewhat muddled but entertaining, funny (if in the wrong places), and criticizing drama. You'll either love it or be offended by it. I think the chance is worth taking. By the way, that flashback with Nixon, et al., might be the funniest moment of the year.
My rating: 7/10
Rated R for strong graphic sexuality/nudity, language and a scene of violence.
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