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THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES

What You Need To Know:

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES is a much-anticipated satirical fantasy. Aren is a 27-year-old black man who wants to be an artist, but never has any luck selling his creations. Aren constantly makes things worse by cowering from and apologizing to any white person he comes across, as if he’s not worthy. An older bartender named Roger has been watching Aren’s feeble interactions and follows him out into the night. After magically saving Aren from an irate white man, Roger recruits him to work for The American Society of Magical Negroes to placate white people and diffuse their racist rage.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES starts off entertaining in its first half hour, despite its woke, racist agenda. This is due David Allen Grier’s jovial performance as Roger and some admittedly clever gags about differences between black and white people. However, what starts out promising falls apart completely the longer the movie drags. MAGICAL NEGROES stops having satirical bite and settles into a woe-is-me victim mentality among black people and negative comments about how terrible white people and America are.

Content:

(RoRoRo, PCPCPC, APAPAP, OO, LL, A, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Romantic, politically correct worldview with Anti-American themes promotes a woe-is-me victim mentality among black people and says how terrible white people and America are, plus people in the movie use occult magic; Language: Nine obscenities include one “f” word and several “s” words, one strong profanity mentioning Christ, and one light profanity;

Violence:
No actual violence (a white man comes running at the black lead, about to punch him while accusing him of stealing his girlfriend’s purse, but the would-be attacker is stopped magically before the punch is thrown);

Sex:
No sex, light kissing;

Nudity:
No nudity; Alcohol: Brief scenes of adult characters drinking alcohol;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking or drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Incredibly politically correct running theme and repeated dialogue stating that blacks live in fear of whites, and it’s lucky that black people make it in America without being killed, the entire nation is attacked several times verbally, almost everything is incredibly divisive racially and poisonous for society, and there’s a running gag of a black man repeatedly cupping a white man’s clothed crotch throughout the movie, a gag that makes no sense but isn’t portrayed as a homosexual gesture.

More Detail:

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES was a much-anticipated comic fantasy at this year’s esteemed Sundance Film Festival, but received a terrible reaction from reviewers who either thought it was too negative about race relations in the US, or not critical enough. True to that debate, the movie is a hopelessly confused, rarely funny and unbelievably boring mishmash of styles and tones, but with an undeniably poisonous point of view about current race relations.

Aren (Justice Smith) is a 27-year-old black man who wants to be an artist, but never seems to have any luck selling his creations. The white people who attend the opening art showing at a high-end gallery are spoofed as being clueless about how great his art is, but facts are facts: Aren makes downright ugly art, stringing together thousands of dollars of yarn together to create abstract pieces that no sane human being would want inside of their homes.

Things are made worse by the fact that Aren constantly finds himself cowering from and apologizing to any white person he comes across, as if he is beneath their existence. When the gallery owner tells him pack up his exhibit and forget about showing future work at her gallery, Aren forlornly walks out, throwing away his creation in a dumpster.

What he doesn’t know is that an older bartender named Roger (David Allen Grier) has been watching and listening to Aren’s feeble interactions all night. Roger follows him out into the night. When a misunderstanding leads two white men to run at Aren to attack him for their mistaken belief he stole a girlfriend’s purse, Roger magically appears to save the day.

Roger winds up inviting Aren to join a secret organization he’s a part of, The American Society of Magical Negroes. (The concept of “Magical Negro” is a joke started based on Will Smith’s character in THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE, where Smith kept showing up to make a white golfer’s life and golf game magically better, a concept many have derided as being a demeaning subservient role for a black man.)

The Society exists to have black men and women agree to enter white people’s lives and always try to stop their “white tears,” a satirical concept that derides white people’s concerns as pretty meaningless. Roger explains that “the most dangerous animal of all is a white person,” and that they must be kept happy at all costs, or they will endanger black people everywhere.

Lacking a better job, Aren agrees to join. The Society assigns him to a white website designer named Jason (Skylar Astin) at a Facebook-style company called Meetbox. Meetbox is desperately trying to create a new logo to reflect diversity due to widespread criticism of being too white, and Aren is assigned to go help Jason figure out a new design that’s inclusive.

When Aren feels attracted to a white woman working at Meetbox named Lizzie (An-Li Bogan), Roger tells him he’s endangering the mission of the Society and putting black people everywhere at risk. Worse yet, Jason is after Lizzie too.

Will Aren fall into line and do as the Society tells him? Or, will he stand up for himself instead of living a subservient life, and also seek to find true love?

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES starts off entertaining in its first half hour of the movie, despite its woke, racist agenda. This is due to David Allen Grier’s jovial performance and some admittedly clever gags about the differences between black and white people. However, what starts out promising falls apart completely the longer the movie drags on further. The movie stops having humorous bite and just settles into a woe-is-me victim mentality by Aren, and some seriously negative speeches by Roger about how terrible white people and America are.

The movie fails at even this darker agenda by having a serious lack of storytelling ambition. The movie tells viewers that Aren and the other Society members’ efforts to placate white people are key to saving black people everywhere, but in the second half the movie bogs down into a tepid will-they-won’t-they depiction of Aren and Lizzie’s feelings for each other.

One black man in the audience was overheard early on laughing continuously and saying, “This is my new favorite movie!” By the last half hour, however, he was yawning loudly. That’s how bad this movie is on a fundamental storytelling level. THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES gave off this vibe throughout the audience as big early laughs early on gave way to stone silence for at least the movie’s last full hour.

Justice Smith as Aren is a hopelessly pathetic lead actor/character, as he literally just wears a hangdog expression, whines constantly and never takes action on anything he actually wants for almost the entire movie. Lizzie is just blandly pretty, and the white male designer is mostly a blank slate when it comes to having any emotion. One other utterly illogical note occurs to MOVIEGUIDE®. If the movie is about black empowerment, why does the main character obsess over having a white girlfriend?

Only David Allen Grier as Roger seems to make any effort, but once Roger falls into hateful rhetoric, the movie collapses. Ultimately, THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES is a movie with terrible intentions, but thankfully fails at conveying those on nearly every level.

AMERICAN FICTION, another recent satire about race relations, handled the topic a million times better and scored a Best Screenplay Oscar this year despite an abundance of foul language and some politically correct moments near the end.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES has relatively small amounts of foul language, and no sex or explicit nudity. Also, it had only a moment of potential violence that’s defused. So, it’s extremely not offensive on the usual moral measurements. However, its fundamental goal of creating a victim mentality in the black audience and building contempt for whites is a definite negative.


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