Woo Review

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The title refers both to the name of Pinkett Smith's sassily streetwise black heroine and what Mayer's romantic comedy is hoping to do to the audience. Sad to report, then, that its charm factor is practically zilch. A buppie spin on the mismatched lovers theme of Blind Date spliced with a smattering of After Hours' New York nightmare, the film struggles to bring a genuine sense of purpose to the frenetically engineered plot and lazily substitutes slapstick sight gags for snappy dialogue and meaningful character development.

Davidson plays hapless law clerk Tim who, abetted by fate, a transvestite psychic and his best friend, pairs up on a blind date with the impossibly lovely but instantly dislikeable Darlene "Woo" Bates (Pinkett Smith). He's modest and gauche; she's got attitude to spare but more problematically, doesn't seem to know if she's an angel or a vamp. Having picked up a few tips on seduction from next door lurrve machine (L.L. Cool J.) and survived a catastrophic visit from a trio of bad-mouthed homeboys, Tim's night goes from bad to farcical.

In increasingly reductive spirals of obviousness, Woo gets him flung out of restaurants, flattened by her mean-assed ex and, following the theft of his new car outside a dodgy ghetto disco, mugged by a Nubian midget's henchmen on a deserted subway.

It's not so much the telegraphed humour or the inconsistency of character that make this seem like a caricature of a black movie, as the dearth of irony and the missed opportunity to play fast and loose with racial stereotypes. The scene in which three homies enter a club of drag queens is ripe for sexual subversion but ends up endorsing their chauvinism with cheap cracks about The Crying Game. The best romantic comedies challenge, undercut or attempt to change the social norm; Woo just follows the numbers.