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Movie Review – The American Society of Magical Negroes

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“Welcome to the American Society of Magical Negroes!” is said to Aren (Justice Smith) as his world has now completely shifted from the mundane to now possessing magical powers, a la “Men in Black”.   (In fact, both films use “erasing your memory” as the ultimate punishment when banished from their respective societies).  Anyway, Aren now cannot live a typical life and must forgo many of life’s good fortunes (e.g. long-lasting romantic relationships).

To be sure, the first 30 minutes of the film were intriguing, and I was curious as to where the story would lead.  Unfortunately, there emerged a few sub-plots that almost seemed to compete with each other.  I left the theatre a bit confused as to what, precisely, first-time director Kobi Libii was ultimately trying to convey.  More on the plot later.

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I enjoyed the acting performances, particularly of David Alan Grier whose portrayal of the wise old mentor (Roger) was very well done.  Justice Smith was also able to show his “acting chops”, especially in the final scenes in the film.  However, the acting alone could not possibly “carry the movie on its back” and make it into an excellent film.

Now back to the plot.  Perhaps if the movie had been longer, it could have delved deeper into the critical subplot surrounding racial relations between blacks and whites in the United States.  Or it could have taken a   deeper dive as a romantic comedy?  Or perhaps the movie might have been shorter and eliminated the rom-com sub-plot, altogether?  In any case, the result was that it seemed to simply scratch the surface on certain sub-plots/topics, even though the movie had a great deal of promise.  (For example, I loved the trailer!).

Ending on a positive note, with more experience, my prediction is that the Kobi Libii will grow and develop as a director such that the name will eventually be recognizable by even the most casual of movie-goers.  The movie almost reaches the finish line, but does not quite cross it.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: It wasn’t difficult to identify good Peetimes in this movie. The best Peetime is the second one. My least favorite is the third (last) one.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The American Society of Magical Negroes.

Rated: (PG-13) Some Strong Language | Thematic Material | Suggestive Material
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy
Starring: Justice Smith, Zachary Barton, Anthony Coons
Director: Kobi Libii
Writer(s): Kobi Libii
Language: English
Country: United States

A young man, Aren, is recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people’s lives easier.

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