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(1998) (Bokeem Woodbine, Cynda Williams) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Heavy Extreme *Moderate Extreme
Moderate Minor Moderate *None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Extreme Minor Minor Mild Extreme

Drama/Comedy: An ex-con, hoping to start his life anew, finds himself tangled up in a mess of stolen jewelry, angry warlords, and gun-toting hitmen.
Daryl Allen (BOKEEM WOODBINE) is a young man fresh out of prison. Hoping to start his life anew, he plans to open a nightclub, but when his friend, Trip (DAMON SALEEM), robs a bank with Daryl as the unknowing getaway driver, he's sent back to prison. Years later, he's back on the streets and his parole officer, Jake Samples (TONY TODD), plans to keep a close eye on him. Unable to find a job, Daryl happens to spot Vanessa (CYNDA WILLIAMS), a former tarot card reader with an uncanny resemblance to his ex-girlfriend.

After a would-be assassin nearly kills them, they become lovers and Vanessa later gets him a job with Billy (JOSEPH LINDSEY), the owner of a limo service for less than reputable customers. Daryl thinks things are going well, until he learns that Ahmad (BASIL WALLACE), a Rastafarian warlord, is after Vanessa for a diamond she stole from him. From that point on, things get progressively worse for Daryl and he does what he can to get himself out of this mess and keep from going back to prison.

If they're fans of someone in the cast they might, but if not, this film doesn't seem to have much appeal except perhaps to older teens.
For strong sexuality, violence and language.
  • BOKEEM WOODBINE plays an ex-con who can't stay out of trouble. He smokes some marijuana (and sold drugs in the past), has sex with Vanessa, and uses extreme profanity. He does want to clean up his act, but gets dragged back down into a crime-ridden world.
  • CYNDA WILLIAMS plays a fortune teller/tarot card reader who has stolen a diamond from a warlord. She has sex with Daryl and her actions/plans jeopardize his hopes of staying out of prison.
  • Rap artist SNOOP DOGGY DOGG briefly shows up smoking a joint and cusses some.


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    I can't figure out when I missed the important announcement -- you know, about film noir being the next big thing in moviemaking. It must be since last week we were subjected to "Palmetto" being released in the theaters, and this week we have "Caught Up." For those unsure about the term, "film noir," it usually describes movies where a dimwitted or weak-willed man falls under the spell of a sexy siren who has plans that will make her rich and land him in jail or the cemetery as the token patsy.

    Okay, so this film isn't a true entry in the film noir genre -- it's something more of a hybrid between the real thing and one of those goofy movies that spoofs a certain genre, like the "Airplane" or "Naked Gun" movies. It does, however, have many of the prerequisite elements needed to quality for that classification.

    We have a down on his luck guy who can't find a job. He then happens across a beautiful, curvaceous, and seductively alluring woman who lands him in bed. The fact that he can't keep his zipper in the up position gets him in trouble as the woman turns out to have a diabolical plan for him. As it unfolds, the man finds himself in an ever downwardly spiraling melee of complications that become more deadly as the story progresses. Finally, the man figures out that the woman plans to get rich while setting him up as the "fall guy."

    That pretty much describes this film and many other entries in the genre. In fact, it's interesting having just watched "Palmetto" a week earlier. Both have a scene where a dead body is in the trunk of a car that must be opened after the driver gets a flat tire. As the main character begins to change it, along comes a cop who invariably wants to help and goes for the trunk. It was like deja vu all over again.

    Written and directed by Darin Scott (the writer and producer of "Sprung" and "Tales From the Hood"), this movie, however, tries to put something of a comic spin on the whole genre. While it's occasionally funny, the problem is that Scott can't figure out how far to go with the comedy, and thus we're never sure what to think of the movie. There are some truly hilarious, but brief, moments, however, such as when Daryl -- who's been out of the social scene for years -- uses some antiquated dance moves at a nightclub. Some lines of dialogue also inspired audience-wide laughs, including a scene where Daryl -- who can't find a job -- comments that he doubts many people "...are looking for bald, ex-cons with big ears."

    The problem is that since the film's not a full out spoof, but has twinges of that characteristic, we never take any of the other non-humorous moments that seriously. In fact one of the unintentionally funnier moments occurs when Daryl calls to speak to his son who doesn't know Daryl's his real father. While I'm guessing the moment is supposed to be heartfelt as Daryl sheds a tear telling his son to stay out of trouble, do his homework, and listen to his mother, etc... I -- and much of the audience -- didn't take it seriously for a moment.

    Much of that problem lies with Bokeem Woodbine ("The Rock," "Dead Presidents") as the lead character. While he occasionally shows that he's an okay actor, at other moments he looks as if he's just up there goofing around and not even trying to act. I'm not sure how much of that is just his acting style, or if his character is written that way. Nevertheless, we're never quite sure how we're supposed to react to this guy. Cynda Williams ("One False Move," "Mo' Better Blues"), who inhabits the role of the temptress, isn't given much to do other than act mysteriously and/or seductively, but it's a throw away role that anyone could have played. The rest of the cast pretty much falls into that same category, although a few of the performers, such as Joseph Lindsey, ham it up quite nicely.

    It doesn't help that Scott has peppered the feature with standard noir voice-overs, and we're treated to such beauts as Daryl saying upon leaving prison, "Nobody's waiting for me, but a dude named destiny. So I walked off to meet him." If you're a regular reader of our reviews, you already know that we hate the use of voice-overs as they're the cheap and easy way of imparting information to the audience. Beyond that, we also get a one-eyed character who wears a black eye patch and a bandana on his head that makes him look like a pirate (assumedly done intentionally, although I'm not sure why), and a mayor named Skrote (we're guessing short for "scrotum").

    As a "thriller" in the noir line, the intentional and unintentional humor defuses most of those elements, and the plot, while wanting to appear complex, is rather sloppily done. Much of the diabolical "plan" hinges on two, non-related, but identical looking people (played, of course, by the same person), who become the catalyst for the main character's downfall, and are used as a later plot twist. As a spoof, one could accept that, but since the film never goes far enough in that direction, it simply comes off as unbelievable for the film's serious side. Similarly, things get wrapped up too easily and are far too predictable toward the end to make this film satisfactory for thrill-seeking audiences.

    In perhaps the first variation on the film noir genre featuring a predominantly African-American cast, writer/director Darin Scott has delivered an occasionally fun, but ultimately misguided film. The duel-edged sword he so precariously tries to balance the film upon is ultimately his downfall as he never moves strongly in either direction of comedy or true noir. Even so, it has some decent moments and for a directorial debut, it certainly shows signs of future potential for Scott. This film, however, will be one of those that quickly leaves the theaters for a somewhat better life on home video. We give "Caught Up" a 4 out of 10.

    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Profanity is extreme with nearly 100 "f" words. There are several sexual encounters with movement and sounds and that show nudity. Several characters briefly smoke marijuana. There are several violent scenes where people are shot and killed resulting in a heavy amount of bloodletting. And in the end, we see that the main character has become successful despite his involvement in crime, thus possibly giving the wrong message to kids. Granted, he claims that he wants to go straight, but still ends up in trouble. Since some kids might want to see this film, we suggest that you examine the content to determine how appropriate it is for them, or for anyone else in your home.

  • Daryl and Trip share and smoke a joint.
  • Trip drinks liquor from a brown-bagged bottle. He then hands it to Daryl who also drinks some.
  • Vanessa smokes a joint and offers it to Daryl but he refuses saying, "I make bad decisions when I'm high."
  • A person in the back of the limo (that Billy's driving), snorts through his nose as if he had just inhaled some cocaine.
  • We see one of Daryl's former coworkers drinking on the street. Later, he and Daryl are a little drunk from drinking large bottles of Colt 45.
  • Rap artist Snoop Doggy Dogg briefly shows up and smokes a joint.
  • Vanessa pours brandy for herself and Daryl.
  • Billy drinks liquor straight from the bottle.
  • After a bank shootout, Trip's chest is bloody from a bullet wound, and the security guard (and his crotch area) are also bloody.
  • After a car wreck, we see Trip who is very bloody, and Daryl who has blood running from his mouth.
  • We see a dead body in the trunk of a car with several bloody bullet holes (one to head, several to the body).
  • A man has blood on his hands and then sees a dead, bloody woman with a knife stuck in her chest.
  • Another man who's been shot is bloody.
  • We see a dead body in a coffin that's just been dug up (but it's not gory).
  • A dead and bloody body is suddenly thrown through a window.
  • Another person who's been shot has some blood on their chest from the bullet wound.
  • A person commits suicide with a gunshot fired in the mouth (seen from a distance and at night) and we see what looks like part of his skull/brain fly away from the back of his head.
  • Daryl had been in prison for selling drugs, and his friend Trip is still a dealer.
  • Trip robs a bank to get money for Daryl.
  • Some may view Vanessa's dealing with tarot cards and the like as having both (for dealing with the "occult").
  • Billy runs a limo service for criminals and we see people passing money in the backseat and another guy who looks like he just snorted some cocaine.
  • We learn that Vanessa stole a diamond from Ahmad who himself stole it, and several others, from a jewelry vault.
  • Ahmad and his men kill several people trying to get their diamond back.
  • Another person repeatedly tries to kill Daryl and Vanessa.
  • Some viewers may find the material listed below as tense, while others might find it goofy and not to be taken seriously.
  • Some viewers may find scenes listed under "Violence" as tense or suspenseful.
  • Daryl finds a dead body in the trunk of the car he's driving after getting a flat. While changing the tire, a cop shows up and the trunk lid pops open. The cop then walks back toward the trunk and Daryl prepares to hit him with a tire iron.
  • Daryl finds himself in a room with a person who's been murdered and then the police show up at the door.
  • Daryl hides in a closet while Ahmad and his thugs threaten Billy. Later they check the closet and nearly find him.
  • Some thugs threaten and then do drop acid on a man's head to make him talk, but they use too much and it kills him.
  • In the opening credits, Daryl fires a gun toward the camera, and several handguns (and money and dice) "fall" behind the credits.
  • Handguns/Machine guns: Used to threaten, injure, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Knife: Used to kill a woman.
  • Shotgun: Used by the police to shoot out the tires of a car.
  • Daryl goes to see an old acquaintance who's a gun dealer, and we see wide variety of weapons.
  • Phrases: "Nigger" (often said by black people toward other black people), "Shut the f*ck up," "Stupid ass," "Pissed," "Bitch" (toward a man and used again, but not directly toward a woman), "Sucker," "D*ck eating motherf*cker," "Punk ass nigger," "Chicken sh*t," "Pissed me off," "Fag," "Bastard," and "Balls" (testicles).
  • Several characters smoke marijuana.
  • Billy spits in a detective's face who was threatening him. The detective then spits back on him.
  • Daryl and another man dig up a freshly buried coffin.
  • A person commits suicide.
  • A dead and bloody body is suddenly thrown through a window.
  • There is a moderate amount of suspenseful music in various scenes.
  • We didn't hear any, but there are several rap songs during the movie and in the end credits, so there may be some material there.
  • At least 95 "f" words (25 using "mother"), 44 "s" words, 5 slang terms using male genitals (the "d" word along with "c*cksucker"), 4 slang terms for female genitals (the "c" word), 30 asses (2 using "hole"), 12 hells, 8 damns, 3 S.O.B.'s, and 8 uses of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "Jesus" and "Oh Christ" as exclamations.
  • Daryl has a dream about his girlfriend, and we see her standing with her arms covering her bare breasts, revealing some cleavage.
  • When Daryl quizzes Vanessa on what he's thinking, she says, "You love my lips. You'd love me to wrap them around you."
  • Vanessa comments that Daryl hasn't been with a woman in a while and tells him not to hurry and that she'll give him a night he won't forget. After some passionate kissing, we see her lying on a bed (bare breasts) in ecstasy (apparently from unseen oral sex). He then gets on top of her and they have sex (with movement and sounds) with him on top, her on top, and then him behind her (along with him feeling her breasts and sounds of her climaxing).
  • Vanessa wears a nightgown and her ample breasts nearly fall out of it.
  • Vanessa tells Daryl, "I need you so much, once more." It's implied that they have sex again.
  • We see Ahmad and Vanessa having sex standing up with movement. He then says that she was a "supreme grind master" and comments on placing his "master tool" inside her.
  • We see just a brief glimpse of the side of a man's bare butt.
  • A detective smokes a cigar.
  • Daryl briefly mentions that his mother died while he was in prison.
  • Daryl talks to his son (who doesn't know Daryl is his father) and chokes up as he tells the boy to stay out of trouble.
  • The fact that Daryl gets away with everything at the end, has a lot of money from it, and is now successful.
  • Trip robs a bank and comes running out, firing his gun back inside. As Daryl drives away, a guard runs out and fires at them. Later, during a police car chase, Trip fires his gun at the police. Their car wrecks, however, after a cop shoots out their tires with a shotgun. Trip is thrown through the windshield and dies, while Daryl is injured.
  • A man walks up and begins shooting at Daryl and Vanessa. They then run through a parking garage and the man pursues them, continuing to shoot at them. Vanessa then gives Daryl her gun and he fires back at the assailant who then runs away.
  • Daryl tells Vanessa a story (in something of a comical fashion) about a man who was shot five times who managed to catch the shooter and stab him thirty times with a butcher knife.
  • Daryl wakes up with a gun to his head and then punches Billy after he says there's no clip in his gun. As Daryl tries to go after him, Billy then puts a clip in the gun, but the scene ends when Vanessa comes in.
  • An assailant riddles the windshield of Daryl and Vanessa's car with rounds from a machine gun.
  • Daryl kicks the trunk of the car he's driving when he can't get it open.
  • Daryl discovers a dead and bloody body in the trunk.
  • Daryl walks in and punches Billy many times in the gut.
  • A detective slaps Daryl many times.
  • A person has been murdered and we see the knife sticking out of their chest.
  • Daryl shoots a video game to get Billy's attention.
  • We hear gunshots and a bloodied man falls to the floor.
  • Ahmad hits Billy and his thugs then hold their guns on him. Later, they drop acid on his head that eats through his skull and kills him (we only see the smoke).
  • Somebody hits Daryl on the back of the head, knocking him out.
  • A dead and bloody body is suddenly thrown through a window.
  • Ahmad chokes Vanessa, but finally lets go.
  • There's a big gun standoff at the end, the lights go out, many shots are fired, and many people are killed.
  • A man rams another man's car and then threatens to shoot him.
  • A person is shot many times.
  • A person commits suicide with a gunshot in the mouth.

  • Reviewed February 24, 1998

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