There are plenty of things to complain about with “In The Mix”. It is definitely not a flawless movie (it isn’t even a good movie), but it was damn near refreshing compared to most of the things I have had to watch in the IMDb Bottom 100 as of late.
Most of the complaints I have seen about “In The Mix” are completely valid. More than anything else, I have seen a lot of criticism of the stereotype-laden script, which also spends an inordinate amount of time worshiping the lead character played by Usher. The way women treat Usher in the film is far beyond unrealistic, to be sure, and the constant reliance on Italian and African-American stereotypes is both lazy on the part of the writers and tiring to sit through. Even more baffling is the fact that Usher has no loss of mobility after being shot in the shoulder at the beginning of the movie, and is allowed to act as a bodyguard while recovering from a serious injury. However, I’m going to focus on some positives with this review. Because, shockingly, I found a lot of things positive worth noting in this train-wreck of a movie, particularly in comparison to other IMDb Bottom 100 flicks.
First off, “In The Mix” bears a significant similarity to a handful of IMDb Bottom 100 members, primarily in that it is structured around and starring a non-actor celebrity. But, in comparison to those (“Daniel der Zauberer”, “From Justin to Kelly”, “Popstar”), “In The Mix” pulls this off pretty well. The problems with “In The Mix” are almost entirely compartmentalized to the writing, which is shocking for being a movie centered around a non-actor. Usher, despite what I expected, was pretty serviceable in this movie. Compared to Justin Guarini or Aaron Carter, he’s Orson Welles.
More importantly, Usher seems to actually have chemistry with his co-lead Emmanuelle Chriqui, and both of them seem to be enjoying themselves. I think the greatest weakness of any of these celebrity vehicle movies is a lack of connection between the actors, which can make a huge difference in how watchable and believable the movie is on the whole. Usher manages to pull this off, and despite the poor quality of the movie overall, deserves credit for that.
I’ve noticed that a lot of folks direct their ire about this movie towards Usher, but not typically because of his performance. More often than not, I’ve seen complaints that he didn’t take responsibility as one of the film’s Executive Producers to ensure the ultimate quality of the project. I have a bit of a problem with this complaint. First off, the director is the one responsible for the project as a whole. When it comes down to it, the role of Executive Producer is left intentionally vague: it can mean a lot of different things on different productions. As I understand it, Usher was given that credit primarily due to his vested interest in the product as its public face. Just because he holds an Exec. Producer title doesn’t mean he is responsible for the quality of the film: producers are far more likely to be responsible for the fundraising and the marketing of the flick than anything else. Also, Usher isn’t an experienced movie maker, so how exactly would he have spotted a problem during development if he didn’t know what to look for? It may not have been wise to give him a producer nod, but even that falls back to being the director’s fault. From what I can tell, at worse Usher was complicit in the failure of the movie. At best, he did his damnedest to make it better, and failed to single handedly save the movie.
The accessory cast of “In The Mix” is, appropriately, a mixed bag. The poor dialogue and writing in general anchor the whole product down, but a few folks still deliver half decent performances. It is always nice to see a bunch of character actors like Robert Costanzo and Chazz Palminteri doing their mobster thing, but the grating comic relief performance by Kevin Hart leaves a whole lot to be desired (like, for instance, the sweet embrace of death).
“In The Mix” is a film teetering on falling out of the IMDb Bottom 100, and for good reason. It is a movie that is just “good” enough to not be entertainingly bad, which puts it unfortunately into the range of forgettable mediocrity. There isn’t anything outlandishly bad enough about it for me to recommend watching through the whole thing, but it serves as an interesting side-by-side comparison with the other celebrity-driven IMDb Bottom 100 features I mentioned here.