This Spike Lee film examines the life of an aspiring actress in New York. She is upset by the treatment of women in the movie industry during one of her screen tests with 'QT'. Out of work ... See full summary »
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
A messy collection of ideas that doesn't work as a story but works as food for thought and that is enough to make it worth trying
Fired from his executive position within a medical research company for reporting unethical behaviour, John Henry Armstrong finds himself hung out to dry, blaming by the CEO for the drop in share value and with his assets frozen. When his ex-girlfriend and her lesbian lover come to him asking for his sperm to get them pregnant in return for $5,000 a time an offer he eventually accepts. Once the deed is done, Fatima starts bringing him other professional lesbian couples who have failed to have children by any of the more conventional routes. As this becomes his new profession, the corporate witch-hunt for a fall guy continues with him in the spotlight.
I will always try and see a Spike Lee film. Not because he is the world's best director (he is not) nor because his films are always fantastic (they most definitely are not) but because even his poor films provide interest and brain food in a way that so many Hollywood films do not. It is easy to just dismiss him but to do so misses so much of what he does that is good and worth seeing. I certainly cannot defend this film on the grounds of narrative because it is all over the place Enron, sexual ethics, the failures of the corporate world and political system to "ordinary" people, all this while still having sex scenes and animated sperm and eggs. If you let it, the fragmentation of the narrative will annoy you it bothered me a little bit and I wished that the film had been shorter with a tighter focus. However, it is still interesting and it engaged my brain; you can imagine the "man gets lesbians pregnant" concept being the next cheap and nasty "comedy" at number one in the box office charts and, although he seems to enjoy the sexual humour of the material, Lee deserves credit for not forgetting that I (and many audiences) like to have my brain stimulated before anything else.
If the opening credits ($3 bill) doesn't give you a clue what it is about, then the film helps with the corporate world setting. The themes are business, money and ethics and the film preaches a lot at points but generally is interesting. There is a lot of slack in the film that should have been removed and for some of it the point was totally lost on me but I was thinking all the time and that is a good thing. Lee's direction is as good as ever and the cinematography is slick. With so much focus on theme instead of story, it is no surprise that the actors aren't that great, but they do all do enough to keep the film working. Mackie is not a great actor but he is effective enough here and it isn't his fault if his character isn't developed that well. Likewise Washington, Barkin, Bellucci, Harrelson etc are all OK but they are more parts within a point rather than characters. Q-Tip is a non-character but is a nice presence in the sort of role that Lee would often play. Although it didn't bother me too much, I did wonder how much damage the portrayal of lesbians did the film or how fair it was? To my eye they seemed to be either lipstick lesbians that were very sexy, or larger women played for comic effect only one or two seemed like "normal" people; but with so many other things to niggle me, this was right at the bottom of my list.
Overall, the negative reviews are partly correct because this is a messy film with a narrative that is all over the place. Happily, Spike Lee is always worth watching because the film has interesting themes through it and Lee's anger may be overdone at times but mainly it has the desired effect of being very watchable. Worth seeing for what it does well even if it does a lot wrong.
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