There's nothing like the payoff of seeing a stunt go right. Except, of course, seeing it go wrong. And James Toback's new film Black And White is the cinematic equivalent of a ten car pile-up. This isn't a film about story or characters; it's about shocking the audience with the audacious kick of the exercise itself.
With a loose, sketchy idea of a script, Toback tracks a group of characters spinning in a frenzy of improvisation. With stunt casting pushed to the limit, Brooke Shields is a dreadlocked doco maker with a gay husband (Robert Downey Jr.) following a group of middle class white kids hooked on Ebonics and black culture. Weaving in and out of this loose narrative are an embittered cop (Ben Stiller), a black gangster (Oliver 'Power' Grant) and a compromised basketball star. But the biggest thrill, and the biggest stunt, is the appearance of Mike Tyson. The disgraced boxer doesn't just lumber on for a cameo. He plays himself as a bullish maniac, bitch slapping Downey Jr., talking about getting his balls inspected by pervert prison guards and advising one of the characters to kill someone.
Black And White's messy narrative skewed themes might not constitute great cinema, but they definitely make for a kinky turn-on.