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Like many productions which are rip-offs, Chocolate City hardly offers anything to distance itself from the more familiar property, with the exclusion of the amount of toned Black bodies.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
With bills piling up at home, Michael (Robert Ri’chard) finds his diner job not cutting it. Add on he wants to impress his girlfriend Carmen (Imani Hakim) and treat her the way a boyfriend should, and it makes his job especially depressing. Luckily for him, though, one night in a bathroom Princeton (Michael Jai White) offers him a job opportunity. Something which Michael thought would have been anything than what was actually offered, the opportunity to become a stripper.
A profession which, to Michael’s surprise, helps him make enough money to not only help his mom Katherine (Vivica A. Fox) but get a lot of the things he simply wouldn’t be able to afford without the job. However, between lying about being a stripper, to damn near everyone, and then a jealous stripper named Adrian (Tyson Beckford), aka Rude Boy, messing with him each night, there comes a point where he wonders if the money is truly worth it, despite all the stability it brings.
Though not often, there were a handful of times when the movie had comical moments. Alongside that, as shallow and basic as the romance was, it is hard to deny that Hakim and Ri’chard didn’t make a cute on screen couple. Outside of those compliments, which are really the best I can come up with, I guess if you like any of the actors’ abs, and butts, there is a positive there as well.
To begin, when a movie repeatedly names the film it is feeding off the popularity of, there is a problem. I mean, never mind the lead character is named Michael, but with each mention of the movie Magic Mike I seriously wondered if this film was solely made to feature Black bodies. For while I have never been to a strip club, male or female, you’d think maybe there would have been a difference they could have addressed between Black male strippers and white ones, or something to make this film stand out.
But no. All we are given is people of Ri’chard’s complexion to Beckford’s doing the same routine and just switching out the girls. Though what really makes the routines bad is that as much as it seems like softcore porn at first, sometimes they look into the camera and it takes all the sexuality out of it. This is especially true for Ri’chard for if you have seen any of his TV shows, I swear you will feel that he is in One on One or Cousin Skeeter and is about to get caught every time he looks directly at you.
The problems don’t end there, though, for while I may have never seen Magic Mike I would hope the storyline is better in that movie than this one. For while Michael struggling financially is a decent reason for him stripping, I do find it odd Princeton was scouted for a male stripper at a female venue, in the bathroom. Also, it seemed kind of weird that the film solely had ladies night and completely avoided the topic, or idea, of any of the strippers being gay, pulling tricks, and pretty much tried to keep things as masculine as possible.
Refocusing on the story issues, though, the main issue, I feel, was everything felt like an urban movie cliché. You have the single mother, who has long tried to survive without her kids’ father and is struggling – Check; the only religion represented being Christianity, and it having an influence on the story – check; one comic relief who mooches off of the lead – check; and, while it may not be a rule, it also has the darkest person in the film act as a villain. Leaving you to wonder how in the world this film got financed? Especially since, even with Beckford and White, there aren’t any huge names here, nor does this rip off even present some sort of unique perspective to validate its existence.
Overall: Skip It
Granted, this movie is probably more about sexuality than story, but damn I wished they would have tried. For really, there is very little to sell this movie on besides a few ass shots and abs. Of which, pretty much a google search could provide you that and more. Hence the skip it label for while I cannot say this maybe better or worse than Magic Mike, at the same time it sets the bar so low that if Magic Mike is worse than this than perhaps The Players Club needs to be considered the best movie about strippers of all time.