Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In writer / director Russ Parr’s sorta RomCom ‘35 and Ticking’ we are introduced to best friends from day one, Victoria (Tamala Jones) and Zenobia (Nicole Ari Parker). Victoria is married to Austin (Dondre Whitfield) who I’m sure will reveal himself to be an insufferable asshole at some point in this movie, but for now he’s okay with the exception that he refuses to impregnate his wife. In fact, so desperate not to impregnate this woman, Austin, according to Victoria, still pulls out. That’s what Victoria said. Zenobia, for her part, is a suffering single woman who would also like a child but alas this woman with the super model dimensions cannot find a decent man willing to do this for her. Obviously this movie is leaning towards the genre of ‘fairy tale’.

Victoria and Zenobia also have a pair of male best friends from way back in Cleavon (Kevin Hart), a nervous little single man who spends his spare time donating to sperm banks, and Phil (Keith Robinson) who is married to Coco (Jill Marie Jones) who happens to hold the trophy as the world’s worst wife and mother. Nonetheless, Phil loves his woman, he just wishes she’d drink less, maybe stay at home a few nights out of the week, and touch their two children on occasion.

So the groundwork for mad hijinx is laid as we tune in on the adventures of these four urbanites as they try to chase down that ever elusive thing called love. Zenobia often finds herself pursued by various lowlifes such as NBA superstar Nick West (Darius McCrary) or she will go on the occasional Internet date with someone such the aging gangster poet Zane as played by the ubiquitous Clifton Powell. If there’s an actor out there that works more than Clifton Powell, I’d love to see him but I know I won’t because that dude doesn’t exist. Even Michael Madsen wants to know how Mr. Powell gets so much work. The vertically challenged Cleavon has fallen for Falinda (Meagan Good), a nursing student who is barely aware that Cleavon is alive, not that this is going to get in the way of love. Our two married friends should already have love in theory, but unfortunately with Austin’s insistence on coitus interruptus and Coco’s love of The Yak, those two single people are probably closer to that elusive love thing than the married ones. And to be honest with you, that’s about it as far as the movie goes.

Similar to Russ Parr’s last movie we saw, ‘Something Like a Business’, ‘35 and Ticking’ is almost completely devoid of any kind of real structure in its story telling. Not to the degree that ‘Something Like a Business’ was, a movie that seemed like a series of sketch comedy skits more than anything else, but there was no real, concrete storyline to this movie. And Clifton Powell was in that movie too.

This isn’t to say that ‘35 and Ticking’ is a bad movie, though I do admit I prefer some sort of a logical storytelling flow to my movies, but it was engaging, it was charming, and most of this was due to the stellar cast of actors that Parr was able to assemble for his little movie as this film had an awful lot of talent floating around in it. There is no secret that we here at the FCU are big fans of Tamala Jones and the unique set of skills that she brings to most of the roles she chooses, and she didn’t disappoint here in displaying those unique set of skills, in her unique way, in this movie. Kevin Hart is one of the funniest comedians working today, and he was funny in this if not somewhat annoying at times, Mike Epps and Wendy Raquel Robinson pop in and out of this movie in cameo roles that really had nothing to do with this movie in the grand scheme of things, but they were funny too. So for the most part this movie was… you know… kind of funny.

But for a movie that’s kind of funny and not really about anything in particular outside of hanging out with some good looking people, I’m thinking what ‘35 and Ticking’ could’ve used to make it even better was if it had lost about twenty minutes of its running time. I’m just saying if you’re watching a plotless romantic comedy, it probably doesn’t need to be as long as it was. The character of Cleavon tended to daydream a lot. Probably could’ve cut those scenes since it added nothing to the already nonexistent plot. As much as we love Mike Epps and Wendy Raquel Robinson, if their scenes together got lost in the mail on the way to the editing bay, the movie wouldn’t have been any worse for the wear and a little shorter. Shorter is good.

But if one is in the mood for a light comedy starring some talented people that goes almost nowhere in particular, I don’t think one can do too badly with ‘35 and Ticking’ because at least you’ll have a decent time going nowhere in particular.

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