Gorko Entertainment Editor Mitchell Kennedy dissects the new Universe Trash Pichures film, Black Phony, starring Wisdom Pearl and Finney Shaw.
SPOILER ALERTS: YES, MITCHELL DESCRIBES ENTIRE MOVIE INCLUDING ALL THE TWISTS
TRIGGER WARNINGS: ANIMAL ABUSE, BUT NO SHOOTING IN THIS ONE
Knowing nothing about this movie going into the Waterson Lakeside Theatre on Grandview with my buttered popcorn and extra large Diet Coke (EXTRA BUTTER — EXTRA COKE, plus three chili dogs concealed beneath my sports coat, along with a well-muffled Ampersat Todd, my faithful little film analyst) (one of the ‘dogs’ ha ha was for @Todd of course) I wish now I had also not known its title, Black Phony, because there was nothing at all fake about the black people in this movie! They were real people with real PoC skin, for all we could make out. Of course in a twenty-first-century Hollywood in which Tom Hanks plays a fat man (Elvis, 2022) and Chris Pratt a half-dinosaur, half-man mutant (Jurassic Pratt, 2022), it sometimes is hard to tell what the heck you are even watching!
‘The Black Phony’, as she is called throughout the film, is a withdrawn but perky 10-year-old (or something) girl played by Wisdom Pearl, apparently in her first role as a phony PoC. She is lured into a bookshop, much like the one in my forthcoming novel, Mister Mitchell’s Bookshop of Wonders Come in Children, except instead of being towel-dried, put into slippers and a comfy bathrobe, fed Turkish Delight by the fire, and read to out loud from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by a goofy, loveable ‘older’ uncle type, she is chained to the radiator by the villain Ethan Hawke, played by the acclaimed and also first-time PoC actor Finney Shaw.
If none of this makes any sense, do not worry, because trust me you are NOT alone. Ampersat Todd was yipping mournfully before he had even finished licking the chili off my tie, and I for two was disgusted that not everything was spelled out in wooden, extraneous exchanges between the phony characters.
For all the messiness of the plot, however, and the misnomer of a title, the acting was exceptionally un-phony. I have never been a fan of Finney Shaw: I hated Gumption’s Basket, too slow and full of rabbit violence; thought The Hebrides For A Bride was melodramatic trash; and his most iconic, Cry For Me Arragonia, in which he played Ferdinand Specktor Guillaume Toussaint, the pastry chef apprentice and eventual King of Arragonia, I could not manage to get my hands on. His interpretation of Ethan Hawke was, however, admirably unstilted and genuine, so much so that Ampersat Todd even confused the actor and the character!
Four fantastic ‘chili dogs’!!!!
ABOUT MITCHELL KENNEDY
Mitchell Kennedy (M.F.A. Film Studies 1984, Leonard University) is the Gorko entertainment editor. He writes the weekly film column Mitch’s Movie Mash with his puppy Ampersat Todd.