Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A few years ago Detroit homegirl Christine Swanson wrote and directed a little film titled ‘All About You’, which I should probably do a formal review of even though I saw that movie long before I became a ‘film critic’. Though the narrative in ‘All About You’ was typical Romantic Comedy type stuff it was nonetheless a very well done film that was sweet, engaging, well acted, humorous, had a terribly infectious theme song and probably most importantly was a movie that featured Black folks simply being people, which is always appreciated. Now off of what I hope was an unqualified for success for Ms. Swanson and her producer husband Mark Swanson, some years later we have ‘All About Us’. Now this isn’t a sequel to ‘All About You’ but instead it’s a fictionalized chronicling of the Swanson’s lives after the completion of ‘All About You’. So the question would be were the Swanson’s able entertain us with ‘All About Us’ as they captivated a lot of us with ‘All About You’? Well… not so much.

Things aren’t going all that well for Edward Brown (Boris Kodjoe) and his wife Stacey (Ryan Michelle Bathe). They have a finished film in the can and it’s getting great reception wherever it is shown but Edward’s best efforts to try to get some kind of distribution for their movie is falling upon deaf ears. To get their film made the couple pretty much sacrificed everything they had with both of them quitting their well paying jobs to make their dreams a reality, and they also have a brand new baby in Luke, who like most babies could care less that his parents have no money, that his father has to work a temp job as a receptionist just so they can eat a couple times a week, and that he should probably sleep through the night so his mother can finish her next script.

After his latest rebuttal in which Edward was educated by a white distributor on what Black people will and will not watch, he’s ready to close the dream out and get back to doing the nine-to-five, but Stacey isn’t ready to shut it down so fast. As a matter of fact she has plan for her next script that she know she can get financed if only she can

convince Morgan Freeman to be in it. One caveat to that is that Mr. Freeman gets more per picture than the GNP of many small countries, and even trying to get a call through to the man is damn near Mission Impossible. But because he loves his wife Edward has cooked up a scheme for the couple to go to Mr. Freeman’s home in Mississippi where they believe he will be attending his annual blues concert, corner the man and face to face and ask him to him to be in their film. But they have to get to Mississippi first as we follow around our couple as they struggle with each other, their dreams and that screaming baby as they travel along the way to learning what is really important in this life.

Perhaps a better title for this film would’ve been ‘Beautiful people in a rental car’ as opposed to ‘All About Us’ because for starters you are going to be hard pressed to find a better looking movie couple than Boris Kodjoe and Ryan Michelle Bathe, and additionally by choosing to call this film ‘All About Us’ I was of the thought that this was going to be, if not a full blown sequel, then at least another ensemble Romantic Comedy, when it was nothing or the sort. Instead what we got was sort of a personal character study as we stood outside the window and peered into the lives of these good-looking people while they struggled with their dreams. While certain segments of watching these lives unfold over the course of what I’m guessing are a couple of weeks were interesting, but when taken on the whole I found the majority of the film to be slow and uninvolving.

When we were observing the Brown’s struggle to get distribution for their first film was when the movie worked well but it was a very small part of the movie, and there were also individual elements of their road trip that held promise but they too far and too few between. Probably the main issue was that the movie was lacking any kind of real drama. I suppose there was suppose to be some dramatic tension in the Brown’s having their relationship severely tested by the realization that their dreams are about to come to unfulfilled end, but Edward and Stacey’s arguments never rose above slight disagreements and never during this film did I get the sense that there relationship was ever in any kind of trouble and I certainly didn’t sense any real tension. The development of these characters was also suspect since we are dropped in the middle of their lives and really didn’t get a feel for what drives them to do what they do. The filmmakers know the characters pretty well since they are based on them, but I don’t know those guys and I don’t feel that much closer to knowing them after seeing the movie either.

‘All About Us’ isn’t a terrible film as it has a clear and honorable message within its narrative, it has some earnest performances and high production values. But despite the fact that this was a very personal tale that I’m sure is near and dear to the Swanson’s hearts, it simply moves too slow and the characters weren’t developed well enough to make their lives interesting enough to propel them through the films plodding and deliberate pace.

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