Vacation Friends

Release Date:  8/27/21; Hulu
Genre:  Comedy
Rating:  R
Director:  Clay Tarver
Studio(s):  20th Century Studios, Broken Road Productions, Disney, Hulu
Running Time:  90 mins.

Cast:  Milton “Lil Rel” Howery, Jr., Yvonne Orji, John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Robert Wisdom, Lynn Whitfield, Andrew Bachelor, Anna Maria Horsford.

Story:  In this raw and raunchy comedy, straight-laced Marcus and Emily are befriended by wild, thrill-seeking partiers Ron and Kyla at a resort in Mexico. Living in the moment, the usually level-headed couple lets loose to enjoy a week of uninhibited fun and debauchery with their new “vacation friends.”  Months after their walk on the wild side, Marcus and Emily are horrified when Ron and Kyla show up uninvited to their wedding, creating chaos and proving that what happens on vacation doesn’t necessarily stay on vacation.  Sources:  20th Century Studios.


Judas and the Black Messiah

a/k/a  Jesus Was My Homeboy

Release Date:  2/1/21; Sundance Film Festival & 2/12/21; HBO Max
Genre:  Biography
Rating:  R
Director:  Shaka King
Studio(s):  Bron Creative, MACRO Participant, Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time:  126 mins.

Cast:  Daniel Kaluuya (Fred Hampton), Lakeith Stanfield (William O’Neal), Jesse Plemons (Roy Mitchell), Dominique Fishback (Deborah Johnson), Ashton Sanders (Larry Roberson), Martin Sheen (J. Edgar Hoover), Algee Smith (Jake Winters), Lil Rel Howery (Brian), Jermaine Fowler (Mark Clark), Darrell Britt-Gibson (Bobby Rush), Robert Longstreet (Special Agent Carlyle).

Story:  The story follows the rise and demise of Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) as seen through the eyes of William O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), a petty criminal who cut a deal with the FBI to infiltrate the Panthers. O’Neal helped create rifts within the organization, kept tabs on Hampton and, when the time came, drugged the 21-year old activist on the night of the raid, which ultimately led to Hampton being gunned down by officers.

Details:  Chairman Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was assassinated by the FBI, who coerced William O’Neal to help them silence him and the Black Panther Party.  But they could not kill Fred Hampton’s legacy and, 50 years later, his words still echo…louder than ever.

I am a revolutionary!

In 1968, a young, charismatic activist named Fred Hampton became Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, who were fighting for freedom, the power to determine the destiny of the Black community, and an end to police brutality and the slaughter of Black people.  The Chairman was inspiring a generation to rise up and not back down to oppression, which put him in the line of fire of the government, the FBI and the Chicago Police. But to destroy the revolution, they had to do it from both the outside…and the inside. Facing prison, William O’Neal is offered a deal by the FBI: if he will infiltrate the Black Panthers and provide intel on Hampton, he will walk free. O’Neal takes the deal.  Now a comrade in arms in the Black Panther Party, O’Neal lives in fear that his treachery will be discovered even as he rises in the ranks. But as Hampton’s fiery message draws him in, O’Neal cannot escape the deadly trajectory of his ultimate betrayal.

Though his life was cut short, Fred Hampton’s impact has continued to reverberate. The government saw the Black Panthers as a militant threat to the status quo and sold that lie to a frightened public in a time of growing civil unrest. But the perception of the Panthers was not reality. In inner cities across America, they were providing free breakfasts for children, legal services, medical clinics and research into sickle cell anemia, and political education. And it was Chairman Fred Hampton in Chicago, who, recognizing the power of multicultural unity for a common cause, created the Rainbow Coalition—joining forces with other oppressed peoples in the city to fight for equality and political empowerment.  O’Neal was placed in federal witness protection after his role in the infamous raid was revealed. He reportedly died by suicide in 1990, aged 40.  Source(s):; official site, judasandtheblackmessiah. Com; Wikipedia;;


Bad Trip

Release Date:  4/17/20; Amazon Prime
Genre:   Comedy
Rating:   R
Director:  Kitao Sakurai
Studio(s):  Orion Pictures, BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, Netflix
Running Time:  84 mins.
Cast:   Eric André (Chris), Lil Rel Howery (Bud), Tiffany Haddish  (Trina), Anthony J. James (Anthony), Michaela Conlin (Maria), Charles Green  (Priest).

Story:  This mix of a scripted buddy comedy road movie and a real hidden camera prank show follows the outrageous misadventures of two buds stuck in a rut who embark on a cross-country road trip to NYC, pulling its real-life audience into the action.

Details:  The film was originally supposed to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival on March 14, 2020, but the festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. theatrical release date of April 17, 2020, through MGM’s Orion Pictures, was canceled for the same reason.  The movie was accidentally released on Amazon Prime Video on April 17, and taken down soon after. It was up long enough to be downloaded and leaked on pirating sites. Netflix bought the distribution rights from MGM a month later, and the leak did not impact the deal.  Sources:  IMDB; Variety.


The Photograph

Release Date:  2/14/20; In Theaters
Genre:  Drama/Romance
Rating:  PG-13
Director:  Stella Meghie
Studio(s):  Universal; Will Packer Productions
Running Time: Unknown
Cast: Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chelsea Peretti, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chante Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Y’lan Noel, Courtney B. Vance, Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris.

Details:  The Photograph stars Issa Rae as Mae Morton, the estranged daughter of famed photographer Christina Eames. When her mother suddenly passes away, Mae ends up on a journey to learn more about Christina’s life, and finds herself in a romance with Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield), a journalist who’s writing an article about Christina, along the way.