Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I understand completely how difficult it must be for anybody to run off to Hollywood and decide that acting is going to be your vocation.  I have a couple of friends who done just that, and though I couldn’t give them any advice on acting, I did advise them to stay off their knees, keep their bungholes protected, and should it come to that, just come on back home.  Now knowing how hard it is for anybody not named Barrymore to be an actor, imagine being Black and trying to do this thing out that way.  I really didn’t know, or even gave it much thought to how tough it must be, until I sat through 20th Century Fox Home’s new movie ‘Who Made the Potatoe Salad?’  You can call me on it if you want to, but watch this first and THEN tell me it ain’t tougher being Black and being in Hollywood.

Jaleel White, Steve Urkel himself, is Michael, an inept, bumbling San Diego Police Officer.  Jennia Fredrique (I wonder was she born with that name?) is his crazy, crazy fine girlfriend.  Crazy fine.  Had this film blessed us with nude scenes, I would have blessed this film with great review, but alas…  Anyways, Michael proposes to Ashley in front of this posh San Diego restaurant.  Now, most guys wait until they get inside the joint and a little wine is poured before they get down on a knee, but seems as if whatever restaurant this was, it wasn’t about to let these cats in to shoot there because our next scene looks like it was shot in somebody’s basement with a card table set up with table cloth on it, to make it look like the inside of a restaurant.  Low budget?  Perhaps.  But being low bud doesn’t mean it’s a bad film necessarily. 

Problem is Ashley has a wacky family up in south central (yes, the wacky crazy family).  Her Dad Mr. Jenkins (Clifton Powell III) is a former Black Panther who

apparently hates cops a whole lot.  Her brother June Bug (DeRay Davis) is wanabee gangsta who hates cops a whole lot.  Her sister Mookie (Daphne Bloomer) is very sweet, just don’t ask her ‘Who Made the Potatoe Salad’ get it?  Her Grandma and Grandpa are senile pot smokers, and her brother in law Ray Ray (Mark Chalant Pfiefer) is a garbage man who hates cops a whole lot.  The only voice of reason in the house is Mrs. Jenkins (Ella Joyce) who thinks Michael isn’t such a bad dude.  Toss in cameos by Eddie Griffin as Ashley’s old boyfriend and Tiny Lister as lunatic who wants to be Ashley’s new boyfriend and soon mayhem, chaos and hilarity will ensue!

Truth of the matter is ‘Who Made the Potatoe Salad’ sucked pretty damn bad.  The story line is extremely trite and has been done a thousand times, and much better than this, and most of dialog is weak.  Writer / Director Damon ‘Coke’ Daniels may want to seriously think about taking a film class or two as the whole production was extremely amateurish from the poor lighting to the non-existent set design, to the poor pacing and framing.  But, surprisingly, ‘Who Made the Potatoe Salad’ wasn’t a total disaster, and though this was DTV, I’ve seen plenty of theatrical releases that were way worse than this.  The saving grace for this little amateurish, poorly lit film with the bad sound was the outstanding cast that Damon ‘Coke' Daniels was able to round up to be in this thing.  Clifton Powell III, who has been in countless movies including supporting roles in ‘Ray’ and almost star turns in films such as ‘Menace 2 Society’ and ‘Never Die Alone’ is truly outstanding in the role of the Angry ex-black panther with a loaded sawed off in the trunk.  Ella Joyce, who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live in a couple of August Wilson plays and is best known for her role in the TV series ‘Roc’ is also very good in her role as the understanding mother.  DeRay Davis practically steals the entire film (petty theft though it may be) as the Ice Cubesque son and is quite the gifted as a comedian.  Even Jaleel White, who will NEVER emerge from the looming shadow of Steve Urkel, is an accomplished veteran actor who manages the role of straight man quite ably in this horrifically crafted mess of a film.  Did I mention that Jennia Fredrique is Crazy Fine?

So you see, if these black actors, and the even the one white guy they stuck in this thing had some kind of choice, I’m certain there is no way in HELL they’d be caught up in something as bad as this, because they deserve so much better, including Steve Urkel.  If you have a desire to see great actors in a bad movie, perhaps only for research purposes, then ‘Who Made the Potatoe Salad’ is just the movie you’ve been waiting for.

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