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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Boomerang - Film 4 (1992)

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, Halle Berry, David Allen Grier, Grace Jones, Martin Lawrence, Eartha Kitt, Chris Rock, Tisha Campbell-Martin
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $131,052,444

Plot: Cocky ad executive, Marcus (Eddie Murphy) has a reputation as a ladies' man. However, Marcus gets a taste of his own medicine when a merger finds him working under the beautiful Jacqueline (Robin Givens), who has a similarly cavalier attitude about romance. 

'A Clever, Witty And Insightful Take On The Traditional Romantic Comedy Formula From An African-American Perspective'

If Boomerang is known, for one thing, it is the song 'End of the Road' by Boyz 2 Men, which topped the charts back in 1992. This chart-topping hit became more well known and commercially successful than that of the movie that was released worldwide in cinemas. Over 20 years have passed and it is time for me to take a stroll down memory lane with this effort. 

Boomerang is an excellent account of a man, who courts the opposite sex and who sleeps with women, only to dump them. But when the tables are turned and he gets a taste of his own medicine, how does Marcus really feel now?  Hence the title 'Boomerang'; you know what they say, 'what goes around, comes around', much like a boomerang itself. 

I'm not usually a sucker for romantic comedies - I find most of them predictable, samey and boring - but I like romantic comedies such as Tootsie and Boomerang: romcoms, which are not your conventional run-of-the-mill, boy meets girl, boy- falls- in- love- with- girl premise. They have their own challenging and different ways of approaching the concept of love and romance that other writers and directors wouldn't dare to address. 

It is very rare to have an African-American rom-com that is as exceptionally good as Boomerang, or even better than Boomerang because I've still yet to come across one that is of a high standard. Usually, when people think of romantic comedies, it tends to feature a predominantly Caucasian and heterosexual cast. Of course, this has changed so much throughout the years. Insofar as the African- American Romantic comedy goes, sure enough, there has been progress, but the quality of these movies that have been pumped out, have been very few and far between. & it is very rare to have a romantic comedy with an an-all Black cast that not only has universal appeal but a rom-com that transcends themes beyond blackness. Because Boomerang is a movie that can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys romcoms, regardless of your ethnicity. Although the implied homophobia is a bit of a turn-off and doesn't make this film any more progressive. 

Other than 48 Hours, Coming to America and Trading Places, I haven't seen Eddie give an acting performance that is as complete and majestic as that of player Marcus, whilst proving that he can carry a rom-com and that Coming to America wasn't a total fluke. If there was one movie that helped relaunch Eddie's career during the 1990s, it was this one. 

The film also marks the first full acting presence of Halle Berry: yes a lot has been said about some of the projects she has done recently and during the past decade, which have not always been the greatest of choices. Nevertheless, in Boomerang, she just proves what a good actress she can be - when given the right script, material, as well as a character that can bring out the best out of her talents. And when it happens, Halle delivers. Even though her character is supposedly less glamorous than Jacqueline (played by Robin Givens), she still looks great with the pixie cut. Other than Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry slays this movie, with her natural charm and a performance that hasn't been toppled by the other character roles that she has played, beyond that of Angela. But I could be wrong. In all fairness, I think most women would want to relate to Angela than that of Jacqueline. Even though she was shy and not overly confident and wanting to be as successful as her boss, Jacqueline, deep down her heart was always in the right place, so much so that Angela makes Marcus see the error of his ways and wanting him to change to become a better and kinder man. The moment where Angela tells Marcus off for being an idiot, that for me, was the highlight of Halle's memorable performance and goes to show that Angela will not be played around with. 

Whereas Angela is the noble good sport, Robin Givens as Jacqueline is very much the female version of Marcus: as much as I don't like that character very much, I do understand that she exists because she is the spitting image of Marcus when it comes to her obsession with sex, and being successful, rich and all those other things. I think this particular angle is done rather subtly and without being so in-yer-face. It's good to have 2 women representing two different ends of the spectrum when comes to not just their personalities and looks, but also their outlooks on love and relationships. 

Coming To America was another excellent romantic comedy starring Eddie Murphy from the 80s, which excelled his acting talents; Boomerang is and was Eddie's 90s rom-com offering, which given the success of those movies, it is surprising that Eddie doesn't do more rom-coms. As well as Eddie, Halle Berry and Robin Givens, Martin Lawrence and David Allen Grier also appear in this film: Lawrence's character is basically his sitcom character, Martin only he is more foul-mouthed and obnoxious, whereas David's character is much more likeable, geeky, the sensible one, who thinks with his head and not with his you-know-what. I liked David a lot. Other notable appearances include Chris Rock, Tisha Martin-Campbell, Eartha Kitt and Grace Jones. 

Boomerang is not called a romantic comedy for anything, I mean, sure enough it has romantic elements, a romantic plot, subplot and narrative, you see Marcus fall in and later out of love with Jacqueline, a few love scenes. And yet it is also witty and funny - but the humour is not ''hahaha look at Black people doing and saying stupid things'' funny, but intelligent humour that has a message and meaning attached to it. You see characters getting their feelings hurt, you see them at their happiest, as well as at their lowest times. 

I understand that this film wasn't as well received by the critics: but in watching Boomerang, audiences of this movie understand what this movie was trying to achieve and what Eddie Murphy as Marcus was trying to achieve with it. 

An excellent all-star casting that the best of African American cinema and entertainment has to offer at the time of the '90s, great script, is amusing, clever and witty with consistent writing and a multitude of characters, this movie truly deserves a place in the all-time top 50 romantic comedies of all-time - yet the fact that it hasn't happened (so far) is somewhat of a detriment. Given it is, as I mentioned, one of the few African-American rom-coms whose quality has not been replicated or surpassed by its predecessors. 

Final Verdict:

African-American romantic comedies are very few and far between, but Boomerang has set the benchmark for others to follow suit; though this has led to very little success, the film itself is a brilliant and insightful exploration of romance from a perspective that is rarely seen in Hollywood mainstream film. 

It ticks all the right boxes and Boomerang is as good as it is today, just as it was 24 years ago.  If you are on the look out for a different type of rom-com, then look no further at 1992's Boomerang. 


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