Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)
As the members of New Edition transition from kids to teenagers, they are forced to take note of how hard they are working for almost no cash and that their egos are driving the group apart.
Ronnie (Keith Powers) | Ralph (Algee Smith) | Ricky (Elijah Kelly) | Bobby (Woody McClain) | Michael (Bryshere Y. Gray) | Brooke Payne (Wood Harris) | Gary (Michael Rapaport) | Johnny Gill (Luke James) | Jehryl (Durrell Babbs)
Characters & Storyline
It’s the beginning of the end for both Gary and Bobby. After Brooke getting fired in part 1, Gary was brought in on the assumption he knew what he was doing but he is worse than Brooke. For while Brooke may not have asked enough questions, Gary is trying to rewrite the answers. Though the big problem is that Gary is trying to pigeonhole and control the group so what worked once keeps working and he gets a steady income. As for the boys? Dollars bills are a rare thing to see. Something they begin to fight about and their mothers, especially Bobby’s, is really getting aggravated over. After all, it has been nearly a decade and everyone is still living in the projects. Then, to make matters worse, Bobby and Ralph are beginning to have children, or are trying to.
Though, focusing on Bobby, with him originally starting the group to have support on stage, and now playing second fiddle to Ralph, he is growing tired of it. Add on, unlike everyone else, it seems to not have the right support from his family, and it is leading to him finding affection in all the wrong places. Be it the bodies of random women or the drugs he is getting from somewhere. Leading to, as he decides to be erratic on stage, him getting kicked out of the group for the guys are more focused on their money than their brotherhood, at this point.
Thus leading to the beginning of the end as Bobby releases a hit record, something not focused on in the movie, and Ralph is ready to stop, in his mind, carry the group and go solo. So enters Johnny Gill (Luke James) to eventually step into Ralph’s shoes and this part ends with “Can You Stand The Rain.”
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
So, granted it wasn’t a big hit but, we are just going to skip over Bobby Brown’s debut album like that? Much less not even mention the name of it?
The Complications of Brotherhood
Within 2016, we saw a lot of examples of Black sisterhood through Insecure, Queen Sugar, and within some How To Get Away With Murder episodes when Annalise was in the hair salon. As for men, there isn’t a lot of examples you can pull about brothers comings together. Be it for business purposes, friendship, or even companionship. So to see these boys, these Black men, argue, fight, look out for each other, and seem to have an unspoken love for one another, seems so rare that it should be upheld. For while Bobby did them dirty, and they did him just the same, there was always a hesitation of taking it too far.
A Reminder That No Matter The Race, Music Industry People Ain’t S—
One thing which seems fairly consistent in music biopics, of any kind, is usually some white man coming in, promising just due for the artist, and ripping them off. Be it, Straight of Compton, Ray, and a few others, it seems to be standard operating procedure. However, lest we forget, Barry Gordy, Maurice Starr, and Jehryl, also deserve to be put on the list of names to remind you the music business is like any other. The idea is to have you undervalue yourself and make you ripe for exploitation.
A Reminder That No Matter How Big You Are, You Just Another Negro
Though Gary never says the N word, or anything like that, with him fearing to go to the area where the boys are from, with the way he talks about Bobby and the way he talks to the members of New Edition in general, you get to see the difference between tolerance and acceptance. What I mean by this is, Gary was able to tolerate the boys and their antics until they started to mess with his money. From that point, and maybe this is me being sensitive, but there was a certain coded language which you know was more about him, this white man, thinking these group of impoverished Black boys should be so lucky he took them on with all of their foolishness. Something which Brooke notes, when he is brought back to be their choreographer.
On The Fence
Did This Need To Be So Long?
Without commercials, thus far there are almost 3 hours of content and I do feel just like ego brought down New Edition, it is bringing down this tele-biopic. For while it’s nice that they are trying to feature everyone’s professional and personal life, including giving their mothers’ take on things, at times you wonder why, like when they cut Bobby’s first record out and just made it something to mention, why wasn’t more handled that way?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, for someone who isn’t familiar with New Edition, past the music, at times it is like this movie so badly wants you to invest in every single person that it doesn’t realize they all don’t have something to become invested in. For really, outside of Mike, Ralph, and Bobby, who are these other people? There is so much time dedicated to on and off stage fights, yet what about Ronnie and Ricardo? How about building up who Johnny Gill was before New Edition with a song or two?
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
Ego, to me, negatively affects this biopic. That, and, trying to focus not just on New Edition as a group, but each individual member’s solo aspirations, crimes, and also bringing in their mothers’ perspectives. Thus really pushing the idea that they know, before and after this movie, they could not get solo biopics, so each one pushed for as much of their story to be told as possible and hoped between the music, and the actors, it wouldn’t feel as bloated as it does. But what do you expect from a biopic made in 3 parts, taking over 6 hours to tell (with commercials) and with a huge amount of input from not just the band but the majority of people who knew them. I’m not saying, at all, Part 2 is bad, but as I begin to look at this tele-pic as a whole, it becomes clear that there is a reason that most write a book with all the details first and then adapt that into a movie which hits on the main points.