Love, lies and secrets are played out on the silver screen with “G,” the first film from Momentum Experience, a new distribution company headed by African American actors Blair Underwood, Will and Jada Smith, Dwayne Martin and Tisha Campbell. Designed to provide distribution to small Black films that aren’t normally supported by distribution companies, Momentum selected this tale, which opened in select cities on Sept. 16, of lost love rekindled and its catastrophic consequences as its flagship film.
Starring Blair Underwood, Andre Royo, and Richard T. Jones, “G” is a loose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, told with an all Black cast of characters. Set amid the opulence of The Hamptons, the story follows a love triangle between self-made music mogul Summer G (Jones), his old college flame Sky Hightower (Chenoa Maxwell), and her constantly cheating husband, Chip (Underwood), all observed by Sky’s cousin Tre (Royo).
Tre is a New York journalist visiting The Hamptons to interview Summer G, who has recently bought a Hamptons home and throws frequent parties for his Hip Hop acquaintances. Tre is aware of Chip’s infidelity, but is employed by Chip’s father and cannot afford to lose his job for squealing. Summer convinces Tre to set up a meeting for himself and Sky to discuss the past, resulting in a passionate encounter. Weary of Chip’s mistreatment, Sky faces the fact that she never stopped loving Summer and the two make plans to rekindle their old love. Chip becomes aware of their past and develops other plans for the Hamptons newcomer, with dramatic results.
Though the concept of taking an American classic and placing it in a Black context is fresh and original, the movie falls short of being the breath of fresh air you may expect. While the acting is impeccable and the dialogue is attention-grabbing and entertaining, the movie slumps into mediocrity due to its shaky plot and forced urban edge. Characters use outdated hip-hop vernacular such as “bling bling” and strut around in Gucci-print track outfits and leather suits, resulting in an inauthentic feeling to the hip-hop backdrop of the story. The film’s awful wardrobe alone is enough to distract from the action and reduce its credibility.
The actors have apparent chemistry with one another and pull off scenes without a hitch. Richard T. Jones gives a stand out performance. Laz Alonzo also shines as Craig Lewis, one of Summer’s artists, bringing a sad sincerity to the lovesick rapper.
While armed with a fresh, creative concept and a talented cast of actors, “G” can’t save itself from its counterfeit hip-hop appeal, its rather ho-hum climax, and lazy ending. The movie is entertaining, but never quite takes you where you want to go. Though it’s definitely worth a look, “G” is better saved for a Blockbuster night rather than seen in the theater. (C+)