Friday February 27, 1998

     As if to concede that there's no escape from stereotyped portrayals of African Americans in mainstream movies, Darin Scott lards his debut feature, "Caught Up," with chronic criminals, cartoon Rastafarians, bad attitudes, bad cops, tosses in a gay villain from Central Casting and concludes with a character so transparently racist that it's all got to be tongue in cheek.
     Doesn't it? Let's assume too that the bad acting is a goof: Bokeem Woodbine, as Daryl, the ex-con who's trying to go straight, keeps getting led down blind alleyways by the seductive but none too trustworthy Vanessa (Cynda Williams) who looks a lot like his old girlfriend Trish (Cynda Williams).
     This causes Woodbine to lapse into what seems to be an impression of Frank Gorshin doing an impression of an exasperated Kirk Douglas. Vanessa, who's gotten involved with some diamonds that belong to the not-to-be-fooled-with Ahmad (Basil Wallace), reads fortunes. If she were any good at it, she would have known not to get involved with this movie.
     Scott uses a lot of expressionistic touches that occasionally lift the film out of its exasperating morass of criminality and cliche, but they're not enough to keep Daryl out of a whole pack of trouble, or us very interested in Daryl.


Caught Up, 1998. R for sex, nudity, violence and adult situations. Live Film & Media Works presents a Live Entertainment production. Directed by Darin Scott. Produced by Peter Heller. Written by Darin Scott. Cinematography Thomas L. Callaway. Music Marc Bonilla. Production design Terrence Foster. Costume design Tracey White. Editing Charles Bornstein. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. Bokeem Woodbine as Daryl Allen. Cynda Williams as Vanessa. Joseph Lindsey as Billy. Damon Saleem as Trip. Basil Wallace as Ahmad.