Review: ‘Somebodies’

More entrepreneurial than artistic, writer-director-star Hadjii's first feature "Somebodies" adds up to little more than a series of uninspired skits untethered to any thematic or narrative substance. Exceedingly mild comedy about African-American college students in Athens, Ga., has some laughs, but character depth, story development and filmic style are all close to nil, and production values just a hair above amateur.

More entrepreneurial than artistic, writer-director-star Hadjii’s first feature “Somebodies” adds up to little more than a series of uninspired skits untethered to any thematic or narrative substance. Exceedingly mild comedy about African-American college students in Athens, Ga., has some laughs, but character depth, story development and filmic style are all close to nil, and production values just a hair above amateur. Looked on as a university project (Hadjii teaches at U. of Georgia, and most extras look like students), it’s OK, but “Somebodies” is awfully trifling stuff for the Dramatic Competition at Sundance. Minor small-screen sales are possible.

Scottie (Hadjii) is studying –what, we never find out — at college and shares a house with four friends. They party a lot, but after nearly getting arrested for DUI and becoming involved with a born-again nymphomaniac (Kaira Whitehead), Scottie makes reluctant stabs at sobriety and celibacy. Scenes sending up adult-literacy programs, “Scared Straight” prison ones, nerdy white and boisterous black churches, and those featuring the protag’s Klumps-like older relations, sport some funny dialogue and OK situations. But perfs tend toward shrill, pic’s look is drab — and “Somebodies” remains stubbornly inconsequential.

Somebodies

Production

A Kohn/Kohn production. Produced by Pamela and Nathaniel Kohn. Executive producers, William Keys, Ben Fuller, Dale Davis, Skeet Willingham, Lee Epting, Eugene Younts, Michell L. Davis. Directed, written by Hadjii.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Ousama Rawi; editor, Eric O. Schusterman; music, Paul Grabowsky; production designer, Andy Rusk. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 21, 2006. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Hadjii, Kaira Whitehead, Tyler Craig, Carlos Davis, Patt Brown, David "Nick" Lewis, IronE Singleton, Nard Holston.
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