Review: ‘Citizen James’

Repping the other side of the comic coin from his kidpic hijinx with Disney, "Citizen James" is thesp Doug E. Doug's homey home movie, too light on its feet to become a pure ego trip --- though it sure comes close. Spoofing Spike Lee in name and figure only (mentions of helmer's name are bleeped out with noisemakers on soundtrack), B&W pic set in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant recalls bits of Lee's "She's Gotta Have It," but without latter's insights into human nature. Even with Doug's wall-to-wall involvement, "Citizen" will draw only nominal fest action.

Repping the other side of the comic coin from his kidpic hijinx with Disney, “Citizen James” is thesp Doug E. Doug’s homey home movie, too light on its feet to become a pure ego trip — though it sure comes close. Spoofing Spike Lee in name and figure only (mentions of helmer’s name are bleeped out with noisemakers on soundtrack), B&W pic set in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant recalls bits of Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It,” but without latter’s insights into human nature. Even with Doug’s wall-to-wall involvement, “Citizen” will draw only nominal fest action.

Twenty-one-year-old James (Doug) feels stuck in Bed-Stuy until he’s suddenly (and unconvincingly) motivated when watching a movie to make his own, aided by buddies Fuquan (Tyrone Jefferson) and Steffon (Albert Shiver Jr.). Brainstorming sesh is as funny as this gets, with eventual effort by James to film bio of Angela Davis much less amusing than it sounds. Topical subjects, such as black youth ignorant of their history, ride on the flimsiest of stories. Doug is the only cast member who can act, but his hapless behind-the-lens work stifles any comic energy pic contains.

Citizen James

Production

A Doug E. Doug World Inc. presentation of a Doug E. Doug Moving Picture Co. Film. Produced by Doug E. Doug, Anna Southall, Charlynne Hopson. Directed by Doug E. Doug. Screenplay, Doug, Guy Margo. Camera (B&W), Andre Banks; editor, Nzingah Clarke; production designer, Zamantha Archibald; art director, Milady D. Jean-Baptiste; costume designer, Yolanda Carter. Reviewed at Westside Pavilion Cinemas, L.A., March 31, 2000. (In L.A. Independent Film Festival --- competing.) Running time: 74 MIN.

With

With: Doug E. Doug, Kayinde Harris, Tyrone Jefferson, Albert Shiver Jr.
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