Meet The Blacks is an alleged horror-comedy that fails spectacularly at being either one of those things. Carried by a funny, yet uninspired Mike Epps, the films tries to reinvent the parody genre with a lazy and uninspired take on The Purge franchise that is dead on arrival.
I should have known to walk away and abandon the ticket I bought with my own money when Snoop Dogg appeared, wearing whiteface, to deliver what appeared to be an off the cuff public service announcement regarding an impending purge. It was a laugh-less and brain-less gag that was met by a half packed theater with deafening silence. A wave of regret had burst through the room like an amusement park 4D ride gone horribly awry and hinted to each person in the room, including myself, that they might have just made a terrible decision with their hard earned cash. Nobody moved however, we just gritted our teeth, ate our popcorn, and prayed there was nowhere to go but up.
We were wrong.
“One day can change your life.” This timeless expression has been used repeatedly throughout the history of cinema and it has been leveraged once more to set Meet The Blacks into motion. Carl Black, an electrician from Chicago, moves his family to Beverly Hills after stealing money and drugs from a recently arrested criminal back from whom Carl is currently on the run. The new house is beautiful, but even the gated community it rests in is not enough to keep Carl’s mountains problems at bay. The people he ran from in Chicago are catching up, his recently released cousin won’t stop openly masturbating to his wife, an angry customer is trying to sue him, and nearly every single (white) person on his block seems to be preparing for the upcoming purge. Carl and his family abstain from such events, of course, because that’s what the family at the center of the real Purge films do.
Some of the above plot threads are far more interesting than others, but none of them ever amount to much. Everyone is so busy yelling at each other, or the people around them, with what feels like like a constant barrage free verse profanity offering no depth or originality to ever seem to care about telling a complete story. By the time the interpersonal problems begin to reveal themselves somewhere just over halfway through the introduction of the tired Purge material everything is lost to underdeveloped gags and uninspired celebrity cameos that would have felt old in 2012 (Mike Tyson! Perez Hilton!).
There is a slight saving grace in the entirely unexplained appearance of Charlie Murphy as Key Flo (Charlie Murphy), the drug dealer Carl robbed, deep in the second act. Epps and Murphy don’t have as much time together as anyone could want, especially considering the comedy wasteland their scenes are surrounded by, but there is an immediate groove to the pair’s interaction that does its best to keep you engaged. Those efforts work, to an extent, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t aching for the credits to roll nearly every minute this film was being projected in front of me.
As a reviewer, you know these movies like Meet The Blacks going to come, you just never know when or what form they will take. Every year there are handful of titles that scratch that part of your curiosity that wants something to be what you know it’s probably not. These are movies, often of the horror and comedy variety, that string together a dozen decent moments for promotional purposes from ninety-minutes of trash in such a way as to make you want a film to be the next genre hit. You know deep down that likelihood is low, but you like the people involved and are willing to run with a silly premise because you live for great surprises in genre cinema. You’ll settle for a few good surprises and a nice performance, but deep down you hope there is something that no one else seems to see.
Meet The Blacks has nothing to say and few, if any, new ideas. The concept of exploring and parodying the world of The Purge is an enticing one, but this film has no idea what to do with its own conceit. If January’s Fifty Shades Of Black or the recent Haunted House franchise were not proof enough, Meet The Blacks serves as the final death rattle of parody films on the big screen. In the age of the internet the idea of taking years to create a satirical take on anything is dead, and its corpse has been beaten so much by half-baked films like this that the bones have turned to dust. RIP.