A few weekends ago I traveled to the movie theaters to see Red Tails! I will admit from the beginning I was not excited about going to see this movie because I do not like war movies at all. Then after George Lucas’ made his comments about the importance of supporting this movie due to Hollywood’s perception of black movies I thought ah dang I guess I will go see it. Not to mention I am critical of the current popular black cinema, therefore I felt like I had to support this movie. Overall it was a good movie. Here are a few things that struck me about Red Tails and the conversation surrounding it.
1. Corny but decent
That is how I would sum this movie up. If you are expecting an Oscar level movie then please look elsewhere. This movie is honestly a step up from a Disney movie but I think that broadens its appeal. A relatively young child could see the movie and follow along for the most part. The music reminds me of music from a GI Joe cartoon, a lot of the acting was subpar and it wasn’t the best script but despite all of these negatives I still enjoyed the movie! The overall story of how the Tuskegee Airman triumphed even when their own superiors doubted them is what makes this movie good.
2. The Acting
Some of the acting was really bad but others stood out to me. Other than Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. the actors in the movie are virtual unknowns. That was an aspect that I liked, seeing so many black actors have a shot in a big screen movie. Supporters of Tyler Perry always say he gives many black actors work but ironically I’ve never seen any of the actors in this movie in Tyler Perry movies. I enjoyed the performances by Nate Parker (Easy) and Tristan Wilds (Junior) the most. I look forward to seeing them in more movies. On the other hand I hope after this movie Neyo goes back to what he does best, writing music because acting really is not his thing.
3. The love story
I have quite a bit to say about this so bear with me. A minor plot in the overall story is a love story between one of the black pilots and an Italian woman. Keep in mind that neither of these lovers speaks the others language so the audience is to believe that despite that they manage to foster a strong love. Yeah right! This portion of the story was boring and frankly unbelievable I could have done without. Every movie does not need a love story for it to be a good story. This part of the movie was noticeably absent from all the previews and write-ups that I saw too. Without a doubt that was on purpose. The target audience for this movie was African Americans. I bet some of the marketers felt that African American women would not support a movie with an interracial relationship. Regardless of race, it was just a pointless aspect of the movie.
4. Where were the black actresses?
This movie was lauded as a great movie with an all black cast but there were no black actresses included! After seeing the movie I found an article that listed singer Jazmine Sullivan as part of the cast. Well I missed her in the movie, so I have to assume that her scenes were cut from the final product. I wish they had included at least one black actress in this movie! At the very least it could have been a flashback.
5. The African American community rallied behind this movie
Red Tails did get a lot of support from the black community. I tried to see this movie three times and each time it was sold out. Luckily the third time I purchased my tickets online ahead of time. From social networks I saw a lot of my friends went to see it and enjoyed it as well. It seems that George Lucas was successful in lighting a fire in the African American community. After I thought about it a little longer I think Lucas’ comments were a little misleading. When you take Tyler Perry out of the mix Hollywood has made successful and critically acclaimed movies with all black casts. A few that come to mind are Precious, Dream Girls, Ray, and even Hustle and Flow. I think this type of movie, a war movie, with an all black cast has had a hard time finding a strong audience and studio support. Spike Lee spoke about these problems before when he released Miracle at St. Ana, also a WWII movie with a black cast.
I think the biggest surprise is that a George Lucas, the man who created Star Wars, would not be able to get funding for a movie. I would just assume that the powers that be in Hollywood would give his instinct some leeway considering it’s George Lucas! It also makes me wonder what great movie concepts are out there with black-leading roles that are not being made? I am definitely open to seeing more at my local theaters! If Red Tails creates more support for a variety of black movies in Hollywood then I say great!