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The American Society of Magical Negroes Justice Smith David Alan Grier Review

Review: The American Society of Magical Negroes Misses The Mark

Written, directed, and produced by Kobi Libii (Koe-bee Luh-BEE) alongside producers Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman and Angel Lopez, The American Society of Magical Negroes is a fresh, satirical comedy inspired by the “magical negro” cinematic trope popularized in American cinema and television throughout the 20th Century and first named and criticized by filmmaker Spike Lee. Flipping the trope on its head, The American Society of Magical Negroes follows a young man, Aren, who is recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people more comfortable. Although initially enamored with his new powers, Aren begins to question the value of using supernatural means to do the very thing he’s felt obligated to do his whole life.

The America Society of Magical Negroes Trailer:

The film shines brightest when it satirizes the archtype itself. The title cleverly throws shade, and the movie showcases the ridiculousness of Black characters existing solely to prop up white protagonists. There’s a moderate amount of humor here, especially when the film highlights how clueless white people can be on racial issues. The chemistry between Justice Smith and David Alan Grier is undeniable, and their performances provide some genuinely funny moments.

The American Society of Magical Negroes Review:

However, “The American Society of Magical Negroes” stumbles under the weight of its own ambition. The plot tries to juggle too many concepts and doesn’t give enough attention to others at the same time. The film tries to burden itself with the already complex issue of race in America. It also tries to highlight the issue of being biracial or issues of colorism but doesn’t dig deep enough to flesh out the issues. Then, for good measure, it tries to throw in a romantic comedy subplot that simply doesn’t work.  The love story feels forced and unnecessary, detracting from the central message.

Perhaps the biggest letdown is the ending. Rushed and unearned, it feels like the filmmakers just wanted to get the movie over with. Coupled with the lack of a clear target audience – is this for white education or Black entertainment? – the film’s message ultimately falls flat.

The American Society of Magical Negroes” has an alright comedic core, but its overstuffed plot and unclear focus leaves it feeling like a missed opportunity. There are far better films out there exploring race and stereotypes. This one might be best left on the shelf. It gets an A for effort though.

The American Society of Magical Negroes Justice Smith David Alan Grier Review (1)

Director: Kobi Libii
Writer(s): Kobi Libii
Stars: Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Michaela Watkins, Rupert Friend, Nicole Byer, Aisha Hinds, Tim Baltz
The American Society of Magical Negros comes to theaters on March 15, 2024. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

Review: The American Society of Magical Negroes Misses The Mark
  • Acting - 7/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
  • Watchability - 5/10
  • Rewatchability - 3/10
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