Director: Justin Simien
Writer: Justin Simien
Cast: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, Dennis Haysbert
Studio: Lionsgate

“Dear White People” is a repetitive clone of Spike Lee’s better days. While I get that first-time directors are prone to a degree of fandom, there are times where it doesn’t work. When you want to make a satire about how the world handles race relations and you can’t connect more than two statements together about the matter, then you’re on shaky ground. The constant shift in targeting internet relations to campus relations and back to pure politics creates a mess. While all three areas need to be addressed, it’s almost as though we’re stuffing three films’ worth of content into a movie that never gets established past the opening five minutes.

I love it when a loaded film gets dropped in my lap, because it always splits the readership. But, I’ll say this to those that follow Sam Strange. The Tyler Perry joke in the film almost sums up what this movie offers to the public. Heavy handed bashing on easy targets while not taking the time to address real issues. That being said, when “Dear White People” can focus on the balancing act between identity and manipulation…the film will blow your socks off. It’s just that there is so much to trudge through to get the material that matters. If anything, the film is a great start. It just needed an additional polish and a tighter focus to make it great.

By the time this review goes up, it’ll have been about two weeks since I first saw the movie. I can’t say that I’ve thought about it much since then, but more about what it wanted to accomplish. Gone are the days of the edgier pushy socio-political satire making a dent on the mainstream. Now, they have to slip into the comfortable snark that plagues the current generation. Snark doesn’t get anything done, as it’s the shorthand of the confounded and annoyed. That being said, I hope that the director rides the buzz of this release into a feature that affords him more time to refine his message. There’s an immense talent boiling under the surface of this film and I can’t wait to finally meet it.


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