WAIST DEEP Add To My Top 10
At Least It’s an Accurate Title
Release Date: June 23, 2006
Genre: Urban Thriller
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 97 minutes
Distributor: Rogue Pictures/Focus Features/NBC Universal
Director: Vondie Curtis Hall
Executive Producer: Ted Field
Producer: Preston Holmes
Address Comments To:James Schamus, President
Focus Features/Rogue Pictures
A Division of Universal Pictures
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
Such is the case with WAIST DEEP. The press materials explain, “WAIST DEEP brings the tradition of crime-romance movies – THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, GUN CRAZY, BONNIE AND CLYDE – to the hip-hop generation.” Director Vondie Curtis Hall also seems to have wanted to tell viewers something important about race, California’s three-strikes law, a father’s love for his son, and entrapment in poverty’s deadly cycle. Instead, he swerves dangerously close to making a modern blaxploitation film.
When recent parolee (with two strikes) O2 is late picking up his son from his South Central school, the boy asks what would happen if nobody came for him. “I’ll always come back for you,” O2 says. Those words are immediately put to the test when, on the way home, gangsters try to hijack his car. A fierce and bloody gun battle ensues on the street but the gangsters get away with O2’s car – and his son.
Enter Coco, the Bonnie to our Clyde. She’s the street-smart beauty, under the thumb of local hoodlum P-Money, trying to survive long enough to get out of the hood. She longs for the magical beach town in Mexico she once read about in a travel magazine when she was a girl in foster care. Meanwhile, O2’s son is being held for ransom by the badest thug of them all: Meat, a machete-wielding kingpin who’s promised to hack O2’s son to death unless he can come up with $100,000 in 48 hours. O2 can’t go to the police because, in trying to keep his son from being car-jacked he’s already violated his parole, so three strikes, and he gets life in prison. So, O2 and Coco combine their forces. He wants his son back, and she wants magic in Mexico.
There are a few humorous scenes of the pair robbing banks and somehow they successfully lay low in a house in the Hollywood Hills. When police respond to the tripped alarm, Coco manages, with the aid of her charm and cleavage, to reinforce the stereotype that a black woman’s only power is her potent sexuality.
At no point in the film will alert viewers be surprised by the character’s actions. They seem programmed right from the word car-jack. The ending, then, will come only as a surprise inasmuch as you are sure that at least the ending will not be EXACTLY what you predicted, but it is.
What is frustrating about a movie like this is that there are indeed black fathers living in poor urban environments trying to raise their sons well. There are also devastating consequences from systemic forces that entrench people in despair. In WAIST DEEP, however, these issues are only so much scenery. They are dealt with about as seriously as, say, an AUSTIN POWERS movie deals with the consequences of global espionage.
What emerges then is an essentially pagan, and very American worldview. If you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself. You have the power within you. Don’t trust authority. Human love conquers all. And, of course, robbing banks is easy so long as you have someone making a ridiculous scene at the teller window.
The movie is excessively violent and the super-abundance of profanity makes it an extreme caution. There is one sex scene but it manages to be relatively brief.
WAIST DEEP is a violent, lusty and predictable ride. What emerges is an essentially pagan worldview that teaches the world is corrupt so don’t trust authority; if you want something done you’ve got to do it yourself because you have the power within yourself; human love conquers all; and, of course, robbing banks is easy if you have someone making a scene at the teller window. WAIST DEEP also contains an excessive amount of violence and foul language.