Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Review: White Man's Burden (1995)

Saw this movie over Thanksgiving. It's going to be very tiring telling you how stupid it is, so let's go right into energy saving mode by quoting from the DVD case: "Set in a time where [they mean "when," don't you think?] color roles have been reversed, where prejudice keeps the white man in his place, this is a different America. [The movie stars] John Travolta as . . . a poor man of the ghetto, struggling to support his wife . . ."

After he's unjustly fired, factory-worker Travolta kidnaps the factory's owner (Harry Belafonte), and they run around and talk and Travolta gets beaten up by "The Man" and Belafonte learns how the downtrodden and oppressed live and all that. The only suspense is in wondering how dented your head will be by the sledgehammering of liberal cliches its taken before the movie ends in a bloodbath of racial understanding.

No, the only remarkable thing about White Man's Burden is that, to educate us about our intractable racism, the movie employs that well-known advocate of multiracial harmony, Harry Belafonte. This bit of casting is so tone-deaf, so unnecessarily nasty, that it implies a worldview deficient of certain essential ingredients--mainly, of course, sanity.

Almost unbelievably, White Man's Burden was directed by Alan Parker, who had previously directed The Commitments, one of the sweetest and funniest movies you'll ever see. I have no idea what happened to the man (my guess is the knee-breakers were after him) but White Man's Burden is so bad it will take a road rage incident and mandatory therapy to drive it from your mind. At least, that's what happened with me.

Update: Notice that I haven't supplied a link to the DVD? Respect, man.

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