(I put the horror spoofs in the horror category, okay?)
A while back, I got into some back-and-forth with a knowledgeable colleague regarding the PURGE series (as we await the third entry, keyed to play off of Election Year). I'm "okay" with the films while he detests the entire concept and believes it could only possibly work as a comedy. So... shortly afterward I saw the trailer for MEET THE BLACKS. It started off resembling a typical race-based "fish out of water" comedy (black family doesn't "belong" in Beverly Hills but they're there all the same, ha ha), but I snapped to attention when, much to my delight, it revealed itself to be a spoof of THE PURGE!
So it's my friend's fault that we went to see MEET THE BLACKS. No names, but you know who you are.
Apparently, there's no studio/copyright protection over the name or concept of "The Purge," because MEET THE BLACKS doesn't even attempt to disguise the name of the annual event. After an amusing prologue featuring Snoop Dogg in whiteface, we're introduced to Carl Black (Mike Epps), who narrates the animated title sequence. It turns out he hasn't actually earned his way into the neighborhood--he stole a fortune in cash and drugs from a freshly-incarcerated business partner and hightailed it from Chicago to Beverly Hills with his family (and horny cousin Lil Duval) in tow, leaving behind an army of angry creditors. We then essentially get the template of the original PURGE film. "Carl's Jr." (Alex Henderson) is the weird son who cobbles together toy vehicles (for no particular reason). He also wants to be a vampire. Daughter Allie (Bresha Webb) has a boyfriend who sneaks into the house (supposedly for sex, but really because he wants to "purge" Carl from their lives). And the film goes for a serious note by including a stepmother (Zulay Henao) who wants to be accepted by Carl's children (while serving as an object of lust for most of the males in the cast). However, Carl hasn't bothered with any security measures because "nobody purges in Beverly Hills!"
The film is well-nigh excruciating in the early going, but it thankfully picks up (if only in scattered bits and pieces) once the Purge business kicks in. The racist neighbors who don't want 'those people' living there are the predictable ringleaders, but pretty much everybody Carl has cheated during his time in Chicago has simultaneously tracked him down to take advantage of the Purge as well, and that leads to some amusing bits in which a series of mystery assailants systematically unmask and confront Carl with his guilt before attempting to off him (you probably saw the Mike Tyson scene in the trailer but at least they didn't give away the entire gag). And there's a laugh here or there with a process server (who's actually FROM Africa) and the guy who goes TOO far with his intimidation speech by using a certain word (which most of the cast employs as punctuation throughout)--his mortified (but equally kill-crazy) cohorts demand a sincere apology.
It's still more miss than hit, I fear. MEET THE BLACKS ultimately has no idea where it's going and eventually falls into the "what are the rules of horror movies?" cliche pit in addition to trying to deliver a genuine message regarding the importance of family love (never mind actual atonement for wrongs delivered to others). You may want to give this a glance on cable somewhere down the road, but MEET THE BLACKS is sure to be forgotten by the time the next (real) PURGE comes along.
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