(Ro, B, LLL, V, SS, A, M) Romantic worldview of adults deciding what love is to them with biblical moral elements; 38 obscenities & 5 profanities; person hit in the stomach twice & bleeding foot; sexual discussions, sexual innuendo & three sexual situations; upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, lying & racial stereotyping.
Newcomer Christopher Cherot stars, writes, directs, and produces HAV PLENTY, a hit at the Sundance Film Festival. Cherot plays Lee Plenty, an out-of-work writer who is invited by a love interest, Havalind Savage, to celebrate New Years with friends in Washington, D.C. There, they wrestle with love. While witty, the directing falls short. HAV PLENTY tries to show that love extends beyond sex and cheating, but is weighed down with excessive obscenities.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Christopher Cherot writes, directs, edits, produces, and stars in HAV PLENTY, a romantic comedy that was introduced at the Sundance Film Festival. Based on a true story, it centers on the relationship of Lee Plenty and Havalind Savage. Lee Plenty (Cherot) is a struggling writer in New York City, who lives in his car or off his friends. He is invited to spend New Year’s day in Washington, D.C. with his friend, Hav Savage.
Hav is a successful yuppie from New York who is visiting her parents in D.C. College friends, Lee stayed with Hav during the Christmas holiday in New York. He arrives in Washington, D.C. to join the party New Year’s Eve night, but due to circumstances ends up staying the whole holiday weekend.
Hav Savage hosts the party at her mother’s house and has invited all of her dysfunctional siblings. All of her siblings have problems that are stereotypical of the 1990’s co-dependant personality: identity crisis, sexually deprived, unhappy marriages, and frigidity. Hav and all of her family need someone to guide them through their problems and Lee, an out-of-work writer experiencing writer’s block, steps up to the plate. Though Hav invited Lee to the party out of pity for his current situation, they both have a spark for each other. Hav is engaged to Michael Simmons, a famous R & B singer, but he is not at the party and Hav does not want him there. She does not show it outwardly, but she always finds a way to be with Lee. Lee tries to leave every day but always manages to get involved with one of the family member’s issues so he never gets away.
Lee Plenty is content with his life and does not expect too much. He is fascinating to the family members who come from wealth and position, because they feel empty and lost. Lee has a peace of mind that comes from the simplicity of life, even though he strives to have more. He manages to charm the entire family even when they feel he is being disingenuous.
His principles remain intact when all the temptations of the “good” life come his way through the Savage ways. Even when confronted on why he does not have a girlfriend, he simply answers, “No woman, no cry.”
Realistically, he cannot afford to even go out on a date much less have a girlfriend, but this does not seem to concern him. Even with his disinterest in women, Lee’s motive is to sway Hav’s heart and when he finally thinks he does, he is not sure that he wants it. The two of them continue to play word games and hint at the emotion they have for each other. They finally decide that their relationship was not meant to be. He leaves to go back to New York, and she goes back to her fiance.
Hav continues to think of Lee, and he sends her a message confessing his love, but knowing that it never can be. She looks out the window of her apartment to the sunset of another day, wondering if she made the right decision.
Thinking the film is at an end, the characters are shown watching a screening of Lee Plenty’s film based on the weekend in D.C. All of the family members are there for the screening, including Hav Savage. Lee takes questions at the end and seems to continue to be self-sufficient.
He has a successful screenplay and is also offered distribution for his film. When confronted by Hav, he shows her that his life is growing into the success that he always wanted it to be. The film ends with a romantic and happy ending stating that success includes having a girl in his life. Lee concludes by stating that in having nothing, but sharing everything, you can get what you truly want out of life.
Cherot as a director brings a fresh perspective to African-American filmmaking without relying on excessive nudity and sexual situations. He uses the camera to catch people in the emotion of the moment and tells the story without excessive dialogue. Poor editing, however, detracts from the final message. In some scenes, the characters make obvious errors. Also, the story and pacing is jerky, causing a lack of continuity in the plot.
With a fine performance, Cherot the actor delivers good comic timing and nice romantic lines without losing the audience’s attention. Chenda Maxwell as Hav Savage seems to merely say her lines rather than acting the part, trying to anticipate the reaction she should receive. Many other actors are regulars from the African-American film scene, but here are merely supportive and unoriginal, personifying stereotypes. Cherot tries to pose for the camera as Matthew Broderick did in FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF but without any comic effect. Cherot needs to let someone else direct his talent.
The strength of Cherot’s talent seems to be in his writing. He writes meaningful conversation with great subtext. He uses the quotes of philosophers and African-American leaders without abusing the most well-known aphorisms of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Luther King. He even uses biblical references, starting off the movie with Philippians 4:12. Regrettably, he did not include verse 13 also — “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” – thus missing the opportunity to quote one of the greatest lines by the Apostle Paul.
HAV PLENTY is a good start for a future talent. Christopher Cherot does not display the dexterity to balance all the areas of filmmaking at one time, as does Spike Lee. A good example of the rising independent film talent in America, the movie fails to tell the source of true love. This is a film for screenwriter wannabe adults with a discerning eye.