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Worth A Look: 36.17%
Just Average: 4.26%
Pretty Crappy: 17.02%
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3 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Antwone Fisher
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by Erik Childress

"Dude, You Ain't Charlie Kaufmann!!!"
2 stars

The first screenplay I ever wrote in film school was completed on the age-old wisdom of my teachers to “write what you know.” Any writing teacher could write that on their blackboard and spend the rest of the semester awaiting assignments to be turned in. When I finished my script, loosely based on events that transpired over the years, one of the main criticisms I received when trying to submit it to those capable of turning it into a movie was “why would anyone think that a story based on THEIR life would be interesting to others?” I am here to ask the very same question to Antwone Fisher.

Who is Antwone Fisher? Exactly. Who is he to me and my world and to you and yours? Did he cure some disease or invent the longer laster lightbulb? Hardly the case. No, Antwone is just a guy, one who had a very rough childhood and took that anger into the Navy with him. Did he use that anger to help protect our way of life or expose some underbelly of the armed forces that American taxpayers should be made aware of? Nope. He just went Mike Tyson on a few unfortunate souls, was sent to a military psychiatrist, exorcised his demons and wrote a screenplay about it. Do you care yet?

Apparently Denzel Washington cared enough because he chose to make Antwone Fisher (written by Antwone Fisher) his directorial debut. His best accomplishment was finding newcomer Derek Luke to play the titular character/screenwriter, who truly delivers a breakout performance that stands above the story itself which begins after a theme-dream full of love, family and food. Fisher is a touchy sorta fella that early on leads him to punchout a white officer for making a possible racist comment in his direction. After being found guilty by James Brolin (in a one-scene cameo), Fisher is sentenced to a three-session evaluation by psychiatrist Jerome Davenport (played by Washington.)

The structure the film takes may find Matt Damon and Ben Affleck once again looking for residuals as this officially completes a Good Will Hunting trilogy that was never planned. (Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester would be the second alleged chapter.) (1) Young man with bad childhood through foster homes grows up to be full of rage and easily susceptible to starting beatings. (2) Young man has a gaggle of friends who may not be the best for him. (3) Young man reluctantly goes to psychiatrist, initially refuses to talk until their relationship heals each other. (4) Young man finds Cheryl (Joy Bryant), a ladyfriend whom he begins dating and becomes a beacon of hope. The problem with this thrice-told story in five years is that Will Hunting and Forrester’s Jamal Wallace were, respectively, a genius and a writer. What does Antwone Fisher have to offer to the world except a screenplay we’ve seen over and over?

Oh, he’s a writer, OK. Then why does the film never show him writing? He draws at one point, but other than a poem (half-filled with the same line), Fisher doesn’t write word one (which perhaps explains this script.) Maybe it’s not about something tangible, but more about inspiration and overcoming one’s obstacles. OK, then its curious why after Antwone should be past his rage-a-thons that we never once get a scene putting him in a situation that would prove to us that he would channel that anger or just walk away from the confrontation. Oh, but its not about walking away, its about moving forward. Yet its not about moving forward, its about confronting the past and going back to where you came from even though there may not be anything there for you. Unless you’re pretty damn lucky.

The film has a confused lesson plan for one trying to preach inspirational triumph in the face of past adversity. Far be it from me to question the validity of how certain events took place in the real Fisher’s life (something that my first script received its main criticism for), but one certainly has to question some of the hackneyed choices made in this script. Like the confrontation between Fisher and the former foster mother who did nothing but beat him and call him “nigger.” Or a final tacked-on revelation by Washington’s psychiatrist (literally in the last scene) that was clearly implied earlier in the film. Or how about the critical cue-the-tears money scene when a large group of family members have apparently been able to be summoned on a few hours notice and prepare a feast as large as one’s dreams.

There is goodness to be found in this story, all of it somehow revolving around Derek Luke’s performance which is perfectly mannered and avoids the opportunities for any big Oscar clips even though the script continually tries to hand them to him on a silver platter. His first kiss with Cheryl is a moment to embrace and Viola Davis provides a strong, silent few minutes in an overwritten but well-acted scene late in the film. The overused subplot of the psychiatrist having time for everyone except his wife is superfluous and only calls to attention the padding of a rather standard story (or to just give more screen time to Washington.)

It’s a serviceable enough story, one that can easily invoke a heartbeat amongst audiences, but was it really worthy of a big-screen treatment? It’s a TV movie at best, one originally branded with the movie-of-the-week sounding name of “The Antwone Fisher Story” (which even manages to sneak its way into the film’s dialogue.) I’ve seen this story before. You’ve seen this story before. I wasn’t really that inspired by it and the only hope it truly provides is for aspiring screenwriters. Don’t give up, cause maybe your life story is worthy of a movie, no matter how uninteresting.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6464&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/19/02 19:03:41
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User Comments

11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I thought it followed the book pretty closely. Not bad. 4 stars
12/11/06 Samantha it dragged on a bit but it was still a good watch! 4 stars
5/08/06 Lorena Gutierrez it was a great movie and it made me think about real life. 5 stars
12/09/05 Sarah Warren I think that every child should watch this movie. 5 stars
9/12/05 Total Crap Excellent movie. "I could watch" Heheh. 5 stars
4/09/05 christins its really really good and worth watching!! 5 stars
11/26/04 Matt C great story, great acting... moving experience 5 stars
11/21/04 Cassie It is a movie worth seeing. 5 stars
10/20/04 Cassy nowan was a good movie 3 stars
7/07/04 rod wilson great writing,directing &acting. a great film 5 stars
6/05/04 jamal this is one of the best. movie was inspiring, derek luke and denzel was great. 5 stars
5/16/04 NNOCHIRIONYE OJIRIKA It is worth watching several times. 4 stars
12/13/03 lisa wonderful 5 stars
10/11/03 Jinnvisible Mr. washingtons understated direction is of note here, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,watch that chair 4 stars
9/25/03 Leticia Aguero Excellant, Excellant!!!! 5 stars
5/30/03 rien stewart this movie and book was excellent. i can relate to this book alot so it really had my heart 5 stars
3/06/03 earl duron a lifetime movie of the week at best 3 stars
2/26/03 Elizabeth It was the best movie I have ever seen! 5 stars
2/13/03 Andrew Carden Despite The Great Derek Luke, The Film Is Overlong and Tiredsome. 2 stars
2/11/03 Brian It was great 5 stars
1/18/03 Goofy Maxwell Modern-day slave narrative gives a voice & role model to young, black males. 4 stars
1/16/03 Sawthat.com Movieman How could anyone rate this movie Fucking Awesome? PLLLLEEEAASSE 2 stars
1/12/03 Fran Great screenplay, fantastic book, read the book! 5 stars
1/10/03 KG You have never seen this movie before, don't be fooled. go see it 5 stars
1/05/03 ownerofdajoint all about change and what a horrible mess we've made of this world... 5 stars
12/30/02 ownerofdajoint goseethisflickit'sarealdealfeelgoodstory 5 stars
12/26/02 miller loved it 5 stars
12/21/02 jason loved this movie. one of the best 5 stars
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  19-Dec-2002 (PG-13)



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