Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

My Wife loves watching African Americans on television. It doesn’t matter what they’re in as long as they’re in something. These shows and movies don’t get a free pass from my bride as she will let you know when she seems something that she thinks is crap, but that’s not going to stop her from watching the next thing that comes along no matter what it is. With that being said, even my wife, who is down with all things Black, howls at the sight of the name Jean Claude LaMarre. We’ve seen a few of the extremely prolific Mr. LaMarre’s films and though I can’t pass judgment on all the man’s movies since we’ve only seen a few, but the few we have seen have been universally horrible. So the DVD for this flick, ‘R & B Chick’ arrives in its bright red envelope, we slip it in and then my wife sees the name ‘Jean Claude LaMarre’ listed as the producer and she gets to howling. I calm her down and assure that Mr. LaMarre is only a producer as this movie is directed by some dude named Rui Valdere, and though that doesn’t mean for minute that this movie is going to be any good, but it should at least be different from say ‘Nora’s Hair Salon’ or ‘Brothers in Arms’ or ‘Sister’s in Spirit’. ‘Sister’s in Spirit’ in particular upset her. Besides, this movie has Clifton Powell in it whom we haven’t seen in a movie in like three days so how bad can it be?

Sterling (Christina Johnson) has just broken up with her boyfriend in Mississippi and as such has decided that it’s time to head out to Hollywood and pursue her dream to be Rhythm and Blues Diva. Luck seems to be shining Sterling’s way when she drops in at a restaurant and gives some minor assistance to the lovely Freesia (Yvette Saunders) who is sitting at an adjacent table while waiting for her scurrilous boyfriend Nate (Dylan Mooney). We know Nate ain’t no good because he’s on his cell making nightime plans with some skank while on his way to see Freesia. Anyways, Nate happens to be music producer and when he hears Christina drop some acappella notes on him he’s primed to turn her into a superstar.

In between, this movie it often cuts away from the narrative to on the spot interviews with real people who are attempting to make it in the record business. That’s a technique I don’t think I’ve ever seen used before and quite honestly, I hope I don’t ever see it used again.

Sterling’s life seems to going along swimmingly as she has found a job working with Freesia who has become her ace, she’s cutting tracks and sounding good, she’s met a young man with honorable intentions (Deosick Burney) and she also has very good friend in a homeless cat named Nate (Powell) who shows up by the dock that she likes to hang around, and together these two do absolutely nothing. I mean it’s cool that Clifton Powell’s in your movie and all because we all love Clifton Powell, but I don’t think his character added anything to the movie at all except a few minutes to the running time, which as it turns out this movie needed.

Things take a turn for the worse for Sterling when the no good Nate shows her his ugly side, and though what Nate did was really uncool, Sterling turned that frown upside down as this even drove her to start creating a spiritual song with her one true love as R&B Chick turns into ‘Giving it up for The Lord’ chick leading to a spiritual happy ever after.

As a movie, I don’t even know if it’s right to call ‘R&B Chick’ a movie because there really wasn’t anything there. It’s really short at around seventy five minutes with a lot of that time being eaten away by cut-away interviews, and a long opening title sequence – though I did think that title song was infectiously catchy. There were numerous musical montages, I mean a LOT of musical montages like for real, so all in all there might have 35 or 40 minutes of actual movie in this thing. What was there wasn’t so bad as the acting was decent, particularly Dylan Mooney who played a pretty good bad guy, and what little story there was, written by the film’s star Christina Johnson, was interesting enough that I didn’t hate myself and the world for having to sit through it. There is some concern as to what kind of movie this is supposed to be as I was led to believe by the synopsis that it was a ‘religious movie’, but there were way to many F-bombs being dropped for this to be religious film, or at least a family friendly religious film. Also to wit, actresses Christina Johnson and Yvette Saunders spent a lot of time jumping around in skimpy bikini’s and lounging by the pool, not that we’re mad at that, and then toss in a scene of attempted rape and I’m thinking that they weren’t aiming for the family friendly dollar here. They could have thrown the whole ‘family friendly’ thing out the window in one of those lounging by the pool scenes where Freesia asked Sterling for some baby oil, with me hoping that perhaps she would actually personally oil her up. I should mention that my wife could be hear muttering under her breath ‘I hope she doesn’t put that oil on her’. The wife got her wish while mine was dashed on the rocks.

‘R&B Chick’ was a really strange movie that was a cut above of a lot of the stuff we see coming from the hard working Jean Claude LaMarre. It had some decent performances and some decent music, but it also had barely enough story to fit inside an episode of ‘Amen’.

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