You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Janky Promoters

Pic may please fans of Ice Cube if they stumble across it during its fleeting pre-homevid run.

With: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Young Jeezy, Lahmard Tate, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Tamala Jones, "Lil' JJ" James Lewis, Glenn Plummer, Juanita Jennings.

Yet another project dumped by Third Rail Releasing, the Weinstein Co. subsidiary that gave us (very few of us) “Killshot” and “Outlander,” “The Janky Promoters” may please fans of top-billed Ice Cube if they stumble across the pic during its fleeting pre-homevid run. A genially slapdash, brazenly non-PC comedy in the tradition of Cube’s “Friday” franchise, “Promoters” overall is no worse, and often slightly better, than most similar fare pitched at the euphemistically designated “urban audience,” and might have sold a decent number of ducats had it not been placed in the theatrical equivalent of the witness relocation program.

Teamed once again with Mike Epps — his co-star in “All About the Benjamins” and two “Friday” installments — Cube doesn’t exactly exert himself as Russell Redds, an overly ambitious and chronically cash-strapped wheeler-dealer who tries, with only infrequent success, to promote rap concerts in beautiful downtown Modesto, Calif. It’s a tailor-made role for Cube — not surprising, considering he wrote the script — and he plays it with his familiar mix of brash-talking bluster and brow-knitting frustration.

Likewise, as Russell’s partner, Jellyroll, an even less savvy would-be impresario, Epps goes through the motions with reliable shtick — a little self-delusional swagger here, a bit of bling-flinging there, flashes of mortal terror scattered throughout.

The duo’s latest venture is a typically undercapitalized attempt to present a Modesto concert by rapper Young Jeezy (played, in a bold stroke of casting, by rapper Young Jeezy). But this enterprise serves merely as an excuse for a loose-knit series of unevenly amusing encounters with, among others, Russell’s sassy, crack-dealing mom (Juanita Jennings), a skeptical theater owner (Julio Oscar Mechoso), Young Jeezy’s prickly road manager (Lahmard Tate), Russell’s wannabe rapper son (Lil’ JJ, billed here as “Lil’ JJ” James Lewis) and a murderously jealous cop (Glenn Plummer) whose wife unwisely consorts with Jellyroll.

Pic earns its R rating: Sexual activity is frequently referenced — and, in one case, simulated just out of camera range — and quite a bit of the dialogue is profanely funny. Two of the most hilarious wisecracks — one involving Michael Vick, the other mentioning Martin Luther King Jr. — are almost shocking in their cavalier disregard for good taste.

Helmer Marcus Raboy (“Friday After Next”) keeps the pace relaxed without undue dawdling. Pic doesn’t build to a climax so much as slow down and then stop, indicating that, at some point, everyone involved simply shrugged and collectively said, “OK, that’s enough fun, let’s wrap it up and go home.” The good news is, auds should feel pretty much the same way at precisely the same point.

Tech values are passable though occasionally sloppy. The onscreen “explanation” of the title helpfully explains that “janky” is a term for “shady, untrustworthy, dishonest, despicable”; trouble is, “untrustworthy” is misspelled “untrustworty.” No, really.

Popular on Variety

The Janky Promoters

Production: A Third Rail Releasing release of a Dimension Pictures presentation of a Cube Vision production. Produced by Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Neil Machlis. Co-producer, David K. Hebenstreit. Directed by Marcus Raboy. Screenplay, Ice Cube.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Tom Priestly; editor, Robert Ivison; music, John Murphy; music supervisor, Spring Aspers; production designer, Bradley Thordarson; art director, Robert Strohmaier; set designer, Betty Ruhl; costume designer, Dana Campbell; sound (Dolby DTS/SDDS), Walter Anderson; assistant director, Donald Sparks; casting, Kim Taylor-Coleman. Reviewed at Premiere NASA Dollar 8, Webster, Texas, Oct. 21, 2009. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Young Jeezy, Lahmard Tate, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Tamala Jones, "Lil' JJ" James Lewis, Glenn Plummer, Juanita Jennings.

More Film

  • Issa Rae Portrait

    Issa Rae Developing Re-Imagining of Crime Thriller 'Set It Off'

    “Insecure” star and co-creator Issa Rae is in early development on a re-imagining of New Line’s crime thriller “Set If Off,” which starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica Fox and Kimberly Elise. Rae will produce with plans to star in the project. Syreeta Singleton and Nina Gloster have been hired to pen the script. [...]

  • Thomas Golubic8th Annual Guild of Music

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Film News Roundup: Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South' Bought for Awards Season Release

    In today’s film news roundup, the documentaries “Gay Chorus Deep South” and “Tread” find homes, Tobin Bell’s latest horror film completes production and Emilio Insolera joins “355.” ACQUISITIONS MTV Documentary Films has acquired “Gay Chorus Deep South” for release during the fall for awards season consideration. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, the film world premiered [...]

  • Bad Education

    What 'Bad Education' Taught Us About the Slow Toronto Film Festival Market

    “Bad Education,” a dramedy starring Hugh Jackman as the embezzling superintendent of district of schools in Long Island, N.Y., was set to be this year’s “I, Tonya.” The movie has the same biting tone, shifting between comedy and tragedy. It received strong reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival. And like “I, Tonya,” it even [...]

  • For web story

    Toronto: Sony Pictures Classics Buys 'The Burnt Orange Heresy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed the rights to “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” Variety has learned. The indie label plans to release the film in 2020. The Italian-American thriller was directed by Giuseppe Capotondi and stars Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland. Scott Smith adapted Charles Willeford’s novel of the same name, transporting [...]

  • Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis

    Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis to Star in 'Justice of Bunny King'

    Essie Davis, star of “The Babadook” and autumn festival hit “Babyteeth,” and “Jojo Rabbit” co-star Thomasin McKenzie will headline upcoming drama “The Justice of Bunny King.” The film, now shooting in New Zealand, is a triumph over adversity tale about women fighting their way back from the bottom of society. It is the debut feature [...]

  • Calm With Horses

    Nick Rowland Talks About Toronto Debut Film 'Calm With Horses'

    “Calm with Horses,” which made its world premiere in Toronto’s TIFF in the Discovery section, is the feature directorial debut of Nick Rowland (Amazon series “Ripper Street”), and stars Barry Keoghan (Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals,” “Dunkirk”), Cosmo Jarvis (“Annihilation”), and Niamh Algar (BBC’s “The Virtues”). The script, which was adapted from Colin Barrett’s short story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content