In the Mix Ron Underwood

In the Mix Ron Underwood
Soft and romantic Usher assays the lead role in this lame action-romance, but you'd have to be fairly hard-up for entertainment to take it very seriously. The R&B superstar plays a DJ who's somehow gotten himself mixed up with a paternalistic mobster (Chazz Palminteri). After a near-miss mob hit, the mix-master is enlisted to protect the Mafioso's daughter (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and falls predictably in love. Alas, mean people are everywhere and the couple will be temporarily separated.

This has the same uncritical worship of gangsters that marks so many other "urban" fables, but the difference here is that it soft-pedals everything: you'd think that the mafia was the sweetest bunch of people you ever met and that all of them keep nice young black men as pets and manual labour. And that ludicrous disconnect from the vaguest semblance of hard reality is pretty much what sinks this lazy movie, which despite its racial-tolerance message is rather noncommittal in every other department.

It's a film that has no shame in assigning a Cheaplaffs Johnson sidekick to Usher, as well as an orphan back-story that fails to convince, making Ron Underwood's bland and style-free direction depressingly apropos. A better choice of lead would have been nice — though Palminteri is his usual live-wire self and Chriqui is surprisingly appealing, Usher looks completely befuddled by this acting business and seems more bashful than ravishing. (Don't even ask about ex-'80s villain Robert Davi and his terrible moustache.)

Maybe this won't do much to stop his fans or devotees of this kind of pseudo-street slop, but the production is so undistinguished that unaffiliated viewers are advised to seek their sexy thrills elsewhere. (Maple)