Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nine Lives of a Black Panther (BOOK REVIEW)

Nine Lives of a Black Panther:
A Story of Survival
by Wayne Pharr
Chicago Review Press
Hardcover, $26.95
320 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 978-1-61374-916-6

Book Review by Kam Williams

In the early morning hours of December 8, 1969, 300 officers of the newly-created, elite paramilitary unit known as SWAT initiated a violent battle with a handful of Los Angeles-based members of the Black Panther Party [BPP]… 5 hours and 5,000 rounds of ammunition later, 3 SWAT team members and 3 Panthers lay wounded.
The LAPD considered the encounter a disaster. For the Panthers and community that supported them, the shootout symbolized a victory. A key contributor to that victory was 19 year-old Wayne Pharr. [This book] tells Wayne’s riveting story of the L.A. branch of the BPP, and gives a blow-by-blow account of how it prepared for and survived the massive, military-style attack.”    
-- Excerpted from the dust jacket

The Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” namely, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The sacrosanct document further stipulates that when people are denied those rights by the government, “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.”
The Black Panther Party [BPP] was founded out of a frustration felt by folks being denied a fair shot at the American Dream due to segregation and racial discrimination. The revolutionary organization took to heart the Declaration’s clauses asserting a right to rebel in the face of oppression.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King, the fledgling BPP exploded in popularity among the no longer patient black youth of the late Sixties. After all, that generation had come of age watching news reports featuring wave after wave of non-violent martyrs being beaten, hosed and even lynched merely for lobbying to vote or eat at a lunch counter.
Among those attracted to the Party’s socialist philosophy was Wayne Pharr, a kid from Berkeley, California who volunteered his time at the L.A. chapter’s understaffed Watts office before becoming a card-carrying member. However, it wasn’t long thereafter that he landed in a life-and-death situation.  
For, the establishment felt very threatened when Black Panthers started not only opening offices in cities all across the country, but decided to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights in the face of police brutality by publicly brandishing guns. So, the FBI targeted the BPP through COINTELPRO, a covert program design to destroy leftist groups by any means necessary.
And while still in his teens, Wayne ended up trapped inside Panther headquarters during a 5-hour gun battle with the police. He was arrested and charged with a host of offenses, but basically beat the rap, thanks to stellar representation by the late Johnnie “If the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit” Cochran.
            In Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival, Wayne revisits that incident and the rest of the BPP’s turbulent years, a time when he had intimate interactions with such celebrated Party leaders as Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Geronimo Pratt, Bunchy Carter and Elaine Brown. The before-and-after memoir also recounts the author’s childhood as well as what his life was like in the wake of the assorted struggles which led to the total collapse of the beleaguered organization.
A riveting, warts-and-all retrospective affording an informative inside look at the meteoric rise and equally-fast demise of an iconoclastic African-American movement with a bull’s eye on its back, literally and figuratively.        

To order a copy of Nine Lives of a Black Panther, visit:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Keith Robinson (INTERVIEW)

Keith Robinson
The “Get on Up” Interview
with Kam Williams

Here’s to You, Mr. Robinson!

In a world where talent takes you far, Keith Robinson is ahead of the game. He’s a true triple threat -- having already mastered acting and songwriting, he’s now positioning himself to take over the music world with a velvety voice.

Before he made his way to Tinseltown, the Kentucky native set his sights on music, and attended the University of Georgia. Upon coming to Los Angeles, Keith had a chance meeting with a talent manager who jumpstarted his acting career. Since then, he’s thrived, landing an incredible 50+ projects in television and film while continuing to pursue his musical career-- often placing songs in the acting projects he stars in.

Keith may be best known for his critically acclaimed performance as “C.C. White” in the Academy Award-winning feature film, Dreamgirls. His big solo in the musical, “Patience,” which he also performed live at the Academy Awards, earned an Oscar nomination in the Best Song category. 

After Dreamgirls, he released his debut album, Utopia. On the acting side, he subsequently starred in This Christmas, Dear John, 35 and Ticking, and Hopelessly in June. .
Here, Keith talks about his new film, the James Brown biopic Get on Up, where he co-stars opposite Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd..

Kam Williams: Hi Keith, thanks for the interview.
Keith RobinsonThanks for having me.

KW: What interested you in Get on Up?
KR: As a musician, I was heavily influenced by James Brown's music. 

KW: What was it like working with Tate Taylor and such a star-studded cast?
KR: Tate is a really cool director because he has a clear vision of what he wants but still gives his actors freedom to collaborate in the process. That's rare. Working with a cast where everyone is really talented puts you at ease, actually. 

KW: How would you describe your character, Baby Roy?
KR: Baby Roy is the young exuberant one who just really loves to perform and be on stage as much as possible. He's what I like to think as the artist who still has those stars in his eyes and believes it's all about the music and hasn't been tainted yet. [LOL] 

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?
KR: That James Brown is the epitome of perseverance. You can never underestimate the magnetic power of self belief.  

KW: Are you a James Brown fan? What’s your favorite song of his?
KR:  Absolutely, "I'll Go Crazy," which I recently remade. 
And "It’s a Man's World," of course.  

KW: Your big break was when you landed the role on TV as the Green Ranger on the Power Rangers. Did you have a martial arts background?
KR: Not at all. I was just a good athlete and I had been in a few fights.  

KW: You were signed by Motown while you were still a student at the University of Georgia. What prompted your move from music to acting?
KR: I never really made a "move" from one to the other. Acting came second once I moved to Hollywood on a chance audition for the "Power Rangers." I've been doing both ever since. 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
KR: Hmmm... I think I've heard them all at this point. [Laughs] 

KW: Would you mind saying something controversial that would get this interview tweeted?
KR: [LOL] Reality shows disgust me. Specifically, the ones that make black people look trifling and super melodramatic. You know who you are. 

KW: Have you ever had a near-death experience?
KR: Only in my sleep, thank God.

KW: Have you ever accidentally uncovered a deep secret?
KR:  Yep. 

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
KR: Yeah, I've been afraid--usually right before a movie drops. [Laughs some more]

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
KR: Yesterday. 

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KR: Twizzlers and naked body surfing.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
KR: Fifty Shades of Grey. I had to see what all the fuss was about… and learn a few new tips.  
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 
KR: "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper. It's on in the background right now. 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
KR: Salmon.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
KR: Progress.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KR: A handsome dude that's come a long way with a long way to go. 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
KR: Permanent financial security.

KW: Let's say you’re throwing your dream dinner party—who’s invited… and what would you serve?
KR:  Too many to name but it would be the fifty most influential people in the world. It'd be a potluck. I got the salmon and Twizzlers.

KW: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend the time? 
KR:  Eating with family, making love to my girl, and praying. 

KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
KR: A derby horse or a dolphin.  Everybody loves them.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
KR: Me and my brother locking the babysitter outside.  Still not sure how we did it. 

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
KR:  It made me never underestimate the physical power a heartbreak can have on you. 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
KR:  I have on nicer clothes.  

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
KR:  Reading minds. I would always get what I want.

KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
KR: Uptown Saturday Night.

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 
KR: Consistency, discipline, and self-belief.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
KR: Consistency, discipline, and self-belief.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
KR: Boys and Girls Club. 

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
KR:  As an amazing multi-talented artist who told the truth, and as a humble brother who loved his friends and family unconditionally. 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Keith, and best of luck with the film.
KR: Appreciate it, Kam.

To see a trailer for Get on Up, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guOS6ev6hQ0

Zach Braff (INTERVIEW)

Or register at: https://www.upimedia.com/

Zach Braff
The “Wish I Was Here” Interview
with Kam Williams

Zach to the Future!

Zach Braff was born in South Orange, New Jersey on April 6, 1975. He attended Columbia High School in Maplewood where he was friends with hip-hop diva-to-be Lauryn Hill.

Zach studied film at Northwestern University where he earned a B.A. before heading to 
Hollywood. As an actor, he’s best known as Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian on Scrubs, the Emmy-winning sitcom which enjoyed a nine-year run on network TV from 2001 to 2010. As a director, he made an impressive debut in 2004 with Garden State, a semi-autobiographical offering which he also wrote and starred in. 

For Zach, Wish I Was Here is the culmination of personal filmmaking at its best. As the movie’s co-writer, director, star and producer, he was involved in nearly every aspect of the picture’s creative development. A decade ago, in Garden State, he perfectly portrayed the plight of a young man trying to find his place in a crazy world.

This go-round, he and his co-writer brother, Adam, examine what it means to have a family today. Zach plays Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor with a wife (Kate Hudson) stuck in a soul-crushing job. The couple have two kids (Joey King and Pierce Gagnon) who are being forced out of private school due to financial constraints, since Aidan’s dad (Mandy Patinkin)is facing life-threatening health issues.  

Despite such harsh realities, the picture nevertheless poetically weaves a wonderful tapestry of an enchanting world worth living in. This is in no small part thanks to the power of the imagination which has fueled Zach’s own evolution from a wide-eyed kid from New Jersey into a gifted filmmaker capable of connecting with his audience emotionally.

Kam Williams: Hi Zach, thanks for the interview. I’m honored to have this opportunity.
Zach Braff: Oh, thanks Kam. It’s nice to talk to you.

KW: I loved the film. Garden State made my Top Ten List for 2004, and Wish I Was Here is definitely one of my Top Ten favorite films of 2014 so far.
ZB: Thanks, man. You just put a smile on my face.

KW: Everybody in the small group I saw it with cried at the end and all the way through the closing credits.
ZB: That’s a good sign.

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you and they sent in more questions than we could ever get to. Let me start with one who just said: He’s incredibly adorable and incredibly talented. Have fun!
ZB: [LOL] I don’t think that’s a question.

KW: Director Kevin Williams asks: Why a decade between movies?
ZB: It was just so hard. I tried my best, but I didn’t want to put out a picture that I wouldn’t want to put my name on. I didn’t want to let my fans down, and all the scripts that were coming my way were really commercial and felt like something we’d already seen a thousand times. A couple times I had movies put together, only to have the project fall apart because we lost a star or I lost the money. There are so many pieces that have to line up. And I was also still doing Scrubs, so I just couldn’t work it out with a piece of writing that I was willing to put my name on until I was able to collaborate on this original script with my brother.     

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian says: I watched Garden State almost every night for a year when I was in college. Often we see the final product but aren't aware of the creative process that goes into a script or filming. What does your scriptwriting process look like?
ZB: Well, it was different for Garden State, because I wrote that on my own. This one, I wrote with my brother, so we got together for about a month to hammer out the characters and the outline of the story. The main character’s sort of a combination of us. My brother’s about a decade older than I am. We wanted to write about a guy in his mid-thirties, so we were able to attack it from the angle of two men born ten years apart. He’d work on one scene while I’d work on another. Then we’d switch scenes and sort of give each other notes, and debate what was right and where it should go. And little by little, through all these conversations, the whole script took shape.   

KW: To what extent is this film autobiographical, given that it was written by you and your brother, and it’s in part about their relationship?
ZB: A lot of it is… the search for spirituality… the struggle to question how long you’re allowed to pursue a dream, especially when you have mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay. All of those things that my brother and I are asking. It’s also about relationships between fathers and sons and mothers and daughters.  We all have those battles with our parents where we want to be our own person but they’re still saying something else. A lot of it is autobiographical, although our father couldn’t be more supportive of our pursuing the arts, whereas the father in the movie is pretty against it. 

KW: Peter Brav says that while watching the film, he thinks he spotted a flaw, namely, a brochure at a Jewish funeral home offering the option of an open casket.
ZB: If that’s the case, it would be a prop master mistake, and I apologize for that. 
There is no option for an open casket at a Jewish funeral. For Peter to have detected that he must be able to speed read and have zeroed in on the pamphlet. The casket is always closed in Judaism, although the family is allowed to view the deceased before the ceremony, if they so choose.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles was wondering what auteur message this film and Garden State seek to deliver?
ZB: I believe, personally, that this experience we have on Earth is finite, and that there is nothing else. I know not everyone agrees with me, but that is my personal belief. So, I think that the message is both about trying to celebrate the present, trying to get out of our heads, and about being present with the people we love. For me, that’s the great quest of life, the struggle to be in the moment. That’s why the film is called Wish I Was Here, meaning I wish I was here in the moment.

KW: Why the grammatically incorrect title?
ZB: I have a two-fold answer. First, it’s a play off the classic postcard salutation, “Wish You Were Here,” but switched around to reflect the perspective of the individual sending it. Second, the premise of the film revolves around a father who’s homeschooling his kids but doesn’t know how to teach them grammar. We see his daughter [Joey King] correct her mom [Kate Hudson] on the proper use of “who” and “whom,” and that’s something that he would get wrong as well.

KW: Hadas Zeilberger asks: How would you compare the experiences of shooting Wish I Was Here and Garden State? How many members of the cast and crew worked on both films?
ZB: I tried to reunite all the top creative heads from Garden State, and I got some of them. Others weren’t available. Both my cinematographer [Lawrence Sher] and my editor [Myron Kerstein], who do amazing work and are really good friends, are back for the film, and that was really crucial to me. And my producers were the same. As far as the cast, Jim Parsons is back and Michael Weston, who played the cop in Garden State, is back. And I tried to find as many cameos as possible for people I like to work with. In terms of the shooting, this one was unique because of the crowdfunding aspect of it. We had our incredible backers visiting us on set, serving as extras, and generally hanging around. That was fun because it gave us a chance to show them how movies are made. Ordinarily, you and the crew just get so caught up in doing it that you don’t ever pause to explain the process to people it’s foreign to. But here, you’d look over and see an electrician showing a backer why we are hanging a light a certain way. Or you’d look over and see Kate [Hudson] saying to someone else, “Oh, yeah, this is where my little hidden microphone goes.” The process was very educational for a lot of people.

KW: Kate Newell and Larry Greenberg had a similar question. They ask: Would you use Kickstarter again for your next film project?
ZB: No, this was always meant as an experiment, not as the permanent way in which I plan to finance my films. It was sort of like, “Hey, wouldn’t this be a crazy idea if this worked?” The dilemma in holding onto your artistic integrity is removing any corporate or other sort of involvement that might influence the art. The question for us was: What would it be like if we took that out of the equation? That was my vision, and it worked. So, it proved to be a wonderful experience, although it was always conceived as a one-off experiment.

KW: Hadas also asks: Are you friends with Donald Faison in real life?
ZB: Yeah, he’s my best friend. He truly is my best friend, and we do everything together. He’s so supportive of me that he’s been promoting the movie and making the rounds even though he only has a smart part in it.

KW: Lastly, Hadas would like to know how you got your hair like that?
ZB: [Laughs] My hair? People always like to talk about my hair. It’s just bed head. I often take showers at night. So, when I wake up, my hair’s crazy.

KW: Environmental activist Grace Sinden says: You've had an extraordinarily diverse and interesting career.  If you had to choose one or two of your favorite types of work could you do that, or is it the variety of your professional activities that gives you most satisfaction?
ZB: That’s a great question, Grace. I always think it’s good to shake things up. You know, I’m doing a big Broadway musical [Bullets over Broadway] right now at the same time that I’m releasing this indie movie. They couldn’t be more different from each other. But that’s what makes being a creator of entertainment so much fun. Shaking it up! I would be incredibly bored if I just did the same thing over and over. I like trying new things and really being brave. Doing the crowdfunding was a brave experiment, and singing on Broadway is another brave experiment. I like to attempt things that I’m fearful of.

KW: Grace also asks: Where do you see your career being ten years from now?
ZB: Well, I hope it won’t be ten years before I make another movie. My hope is to be making a lot more movies in the next decade. It’s certainly what brings me the most joy.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier aks: What was the most challenging scene to shoot in Wish I Was Here?
ZB: Probably those fantasy sequences, because they were very elaborate and we didn’t have much time. We shot the whole movie in 26 days. The fantasy sequences involved a lot of special f/x and a costume built by a great company called Legacy Effects, and all sorts of camera toys. Those were the most challenging, especially since I had to direct from inside the suit, which was really hard. But I did have a body double for when my face wasn’t onscreen,

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
ZB: Wow! That’s a great question… [Pauses to reflect] But I’ve been asked so many questions that I can’t think of one.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
ZB: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
ZB: I can’t cook, so I’ll say ice.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
ZB: Someone who’s extraordinarily tired because he’s doing eight shows a week on Broadway while he’s releasing a film.

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
ZB: I don’t even know. But I can remember my earliest movie memory. My father used to somehow get a hold of 35mm prints and project them on our living room wall way before I could understand them. My earliest movie memory is of my parents having a dinner party and showing Annie Hall which, to this day, is one of my favorite films. 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Zach, and best of luck both on Broadway and with Wish I Was Here.
ZB: Thanks for all your support, Kam. That really means a lot to me.

To see a trailer for Wish I Was Here, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCponfeWNOI

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy (FILM REVIEW)

The Purge: Anarchy
Film Review by Kam Williams

Grisly Sequel Chronicles Another Struggle to Survive Annual One-Day War of Attrition

            Dateline: America, 2023. It’s now nine years since the country voted the New Founders of America into power. High on that elitist political party’s agenda was designating March 21st as the Purge, a day on which all law is suspended, meaning anything goes, rape, robbery, even murder.
Most citizens opt to stay inside for the duration of the annual ordeal, battening down the hatches with a Bible or a weapon in hand, since they can’t call upon the cops to come to their assistance in the event of an emergency. Yet, many turn vigilante to rid the streets of the dregs of humanity, others seize on the opportunity to even the score with someone they have a grievance against.
A couple of hours before the “fun” starts, we find Eva (Carmen Ejogo) rushing home from her job at a diner to be with her teen daughter, Cali (Zoe Soul). In the process, the attractive waitress ignores the crude passes of both a co-worker (Nicholas Gonzalez) and her apartment building’s custodian (Noel Gugliemi).
Elsewhere, Liz (Kiele Sanchez) and Shane (Zach Gilford) are driving to his sister’s while debating about whether to inform her that their marriage is on the rocks. But the two soon land in desperate straits when their car conks out on the highway only minutes before the siren sounds signaling the beginning of the Purge.
That moment can’t come soon enough for revenge-minded Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) who’s itching to get even with the drunk driver (Brandon Keener) that not only killed his son, but got off scot-free on a legal technicality. However, soon after the Purge starts, the police sergeant reflexively comes to the assistance of Eva, Cali, Liz and Shane, all of whom are on the run from a bloodthirsty death squad.  
So, he puts his plan on the backburner temporarily to protect the frightened foursome. That endeavor proves easier said than done in The Purge: Anarchy, a stereotypical horror sequel in that it ups the ante in terms of violence, body count, pyrotechnics and gratuitous gore.
Unfortunately, the film pales in comparison to the original, which was a thought-provoking thriller raising questions about poverty and privilege. This relatively-simplistic installment pays lip service to that intriguing theme in almost insulting fashion, envisioning instead a nihilistic U.S. which has merely degenerated into a decadent dystopia where blood-thirsty rich snobs relish slaying the poor purely for sport.
It is, thus, no surprise to witness the rise of an African-American guerilla leader (Michael K. Williams) who’s exhorting the masses to revolt by indicting the Purge as racist. An entertaining enough, if incoherent, splatterfest which unapologetically lifts familiar elements from such apocalyptic classics as The Hunger Games (2012), V for Vendetta (2006), The Warriors (1979), Escape from New York (1981) and Hard Target (1993).  
            A perhaps prophetic satire celebrating senseless slaughter as a natural national holiday in such a gun-loving country!           

Good (2 stars)
Rated R for profanity and graphic violence
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures

To see a trailer for The Purge: Anarchy, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzFCDqKE4yA

Thursday, July 17, 2014

All Cheerleaders Die (DVD REVIEW)

All Cheerleaders Die
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Remake of Gory Revenge Comedy Comes to DVD
            In 2001, Lucky McKee co-wrote and co-directed All Cheerleaders Die, a horror comedy shot on a shoestring budget about some cute high school coeds-turned-soulless cannibals who rise from the dead to exact revenge on their boyfriends. Apparently not satisfied with that initial effort, the same filmmaking team decided to collaborate on a remake of their own picture a dozen years later.
            Since this critic never saw the original, I can’t honestly say whether the new version represents a substantial improvement over the source material. FYI, this edition is basically a campy B-flick marked by the same shopworn clich├ęs, cheesy dialogue and low production values it presumes to lampoon.
The story is set at Blackfoot High School where, at the point of departure, we find attractive, mean girl Alexis (Felisha Cooper) talking trash during cheerleading practice. But she dies on the spot, after being accidentally dropped on her head while executing a difficult stunt.
Instead of mourning, her boyfriend Terry (Tom Williamson), the captain of the football team, soon starts dating Tracy (Brooke Butler), another cheerleader. This horrifies rebel lesbian classmate Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) who auditions for Alexis’ spot on the squad in order to get even with Terry by stealing the affections of Tracy.
He reacts by forbidding his pals from dating cheerleaders, asking, “Do you want to waste your senior year chasing a Jesus freak who’s never going to put out when there’s a whole world of [p-word] out there?” Instead, he directs the guys go after Goths, nerds, drama chicks, stoners, fat [b-words] and freshmen.  
Next, fate intervenes in the way of a crash that takes the lives of a carful of cheerleaders. Somehow, Maddy and company subsequently morph into man-eating zombies that love to feast on macho football players. And the ghoulish girls get the better of their former beaus it in the ensuing, supernatural splatterfest.
A gruesome, expletive-laced, battle-of-the-sexes satire of the scary movie genre featuring enough eroticized gore and titillation at every turn to hold the attention of the testosterone-fueled demographic for the duration. 

Good (2 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: Image Entertainment
DVD Extras: Making the Squad: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at All Cheerleaders Die.

To see a trailer for All Cheerleaders Die, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sx0EBMq1H0E    

To order a copy of All Cheerleaders Die on DVD, visit:

The Single Moms Club (DVD REVIEW)

The Single Moms Club
DVD Review by Kam Williams

Tyler Perry Tribute to Motherhood Arrives on DVD

            Fast-food waitress Lytia (Cocoa Brown) survives paycheck to paycheck and has to rely on public transportation to get around. By contrast, Jan (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an ambitious executive at a prominent publishing company, has many modern amenities and a luxury automobile at her disposal.
            Meanwhile, May (Nia Long) is unemployed but dreams of a career in journalism. Then there’s Hillary (Amy Smart), a recent divorcee who’s a bit overwhelmed about the prospect of raising her kids alone in suburbia. And finally, frightened Esperanza (Zulay Henao) has been reduced to cowering and hiding from an abusive ex-husband (Eddie Cibrian) who has continued to threaten her long after their separation.
            At first blush, it probably sounds like these five females would have little in common, let alone a reason to cross paths. But that’s exactly what transpires when they’re all summoned to the principal’s office at West Merryville Prep where they each have a child who has just been put on probation for disciplinary reasons like smoking and spray painting graffiti.
            At the meeting, Principal Walters (Carrie L. Walrond) leaves the parents no choice but to co-chair the school’s annual fundraising dance. However, this is easier said than done, given that the five, frazzled single-moms are not only bordering on burnout, but are unaccustomed to interacting with folks from the other side of the tracks.
            They grudgingly agree to organize the soiree, but can these black, white and Latino women even get past their considerable class and cultural differences? That is the concern established at the outset of The Single Moms Club, a humor-driven tale of female empowerment played more for laughs than for serious enlightenment.
            Written, produced and directed by and co-starring Tyler Perry, the picture first pits the protagonists against one another before having them gradually see their similarities as overburdened sole providers. At that point, they create an informal association which basically functions as a babysitting support group as well as an excuse to share a weekly girls’ night to decompress by singing karaoke, watching hunky men strip, and trading relationship advice about the battle-of-the-sexes.
            Tyler tweaks his familiar, morality play formula here by toning down the sermonizing this go-round in favor of going more for laughs. Of course, before the closing credits outtakes roll, he makes sure his heroines conveniently bond into a tight-knit band of sisters whose lovers and little monsters are all behaving again.
            An unabashedly-sentimental salute to single-moms from all walks of life!

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes
Running time: 111 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: “The Single Moms Sisterhood” and “The Men’s Club” featurettes.

To see a trailer for The Single Moms Club, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQNOvfixtpo\\\
To order a copy of The Sing\le Moms Club Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

Top Ten DVD Releases for 7-22-14

This Week’s DVD Releases
by Kam Williams

Top Ten DVD List for July 22, 2014                      


The M Word 

Day of Days: June 6, 1944

The Suspect

Made in America: Jay-Z 

An American Girl: Isabelle Dances into the Spotlight

Heaven Is for Real

Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club

All Cheerleaders Die

Caillou: Fun and Games with Caillou!

Honorable Mention

D-Day’s Sunken Secrets

The Legend of Billie Jean [Special ‘Fair Is Fair’ Edition]

Donnie Brasco [Blu-ray]


Justin and the Knights of Valor

The Pretty One

Make Your Move

Last Action Hero

Gridiron Gang


Geronimo Stilton: Going Down to Chinatown

Peep and the Big Wide World: Peep Discovers
Appleseed Alpha



At War with the Army

Children without a Shadow

I Was There in Color