Black and White

2002

Black and White

Critics Consensus

The atmosphere is affecting, and the story, at times, is compelling, but with a lean script and limp direction, Black and White doesn't add up to much.

39%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 80

30%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,434
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Movie Info

The inner workings of the New York hip-hop scene, and the fascination of white observers with rap music and hip-hop culture, set the stage for this drama written and directed by James Toback. Rich Bower (Power) is a mover and shaker in the world of rap music (he's involved with a number of other licit and illicit business ventures as well), and his apartment is a favored meeting place for musicians, hangers-on, and hipsters who want to seem cool, including a clique of white kids who want to be on the inside of whey they consider the coolest scene of the day. Sam (Brooke Shields), a filmmaker, is making a documentary about Rich and his circle, with the help of her husband Terry (Robert Downey Jr.), a closeted homosexual who doesn't feel at home in this milieu. Dean (Allan Houston) is a talented college basketball player and Rich's friend since childhood who is offered a deal by a bookmaker, Mark (Ben Stiller) to throw a few games for a price. Dean takes the money against his better judgment, and he soon realizes how much of a mistake he made when Mark turns out to be a cop hoping to dig up dirt on Rich. Rich in turn discovers that Dean might be forced to tell what he knows to stay out of jail, and he decides that Dean has to be killed; however, rather than murder his friend himself, Rich asks one of the white kids who hangs out with him, who seems especially eager to prove himself, to do it for him. The kid, however, is actually the son of the District Attorney. Also contributing to Black and White's supporting cast are controversial boxing legend Mike Tyson, musician Bijou Phillips, Wu Tang Clan rapper Raekwon, model Claudia Schiffer, and Donald Trump's former spouse Marla Maples.

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Critic Reviews for Black and White

All Critics (80) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (49)

  • As lively and amusing as the film is in some ways, it does set up expectations at the outset that are never really delivered upon.

    Jun 17, 2008

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • It looks like a mess -- if one stuffed with incident, issues and intrigue.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • While Toback certainly makes a game effort to study the infiltration of hip-hop into the mainstream, his inability to choose what ground to cover ultimately results in an episodic hotch-potch.

    Jan 13, 2004 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Ben Falk

    BBC.com
    Top Critic
  • It doesn't try to spell out all aspects of the issue or arrive at any particular point. Toback presents specific characters dealing with specific problems and, through their stories, somehow manages to take the temperature of the times.

    Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • This lively mess proves that when Toback loses his head, he does it with style.

    May 10, 2001 | Rating: 3/5
  • Black and White is defeated by its structural shapelessness, and a down-with-it attitude that glosses over the script's lack of any real analysis of hip-hop's cultural influence.

    Jan 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Black and White

  • Jul 31, 2008
    Robert Downey Jr. & Jared Leto are in this I think I saw Brooke Shields too. However I think for the first time half way through the movie I turned it off & didn't bother with it. Its nothing but hip Hop B.S. & Sorry but Being I knew a White chick (or a couple) that used to act 'like she black'.. I couldn't take the horrible grammar etc. I think about 15 minutes in is when it officially lost my interest. F
  • Nov 26, 2007
    I'm sure I'd reviewed this film on Flixster but apparently not. Anyway, <i>Black & White</i> is a pretty unmemorable comment on race and culture, but there is good improvising from a typically excellent Robert Downey Jr. <p>Director James Toback is here evidentially trying to do a "Robert Altman" by splicing interweaving story lines, but to be honest the whole thing is pretty messy and actually quite contrived.
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2007
    James Toback always pushes genres and types to clash, this is the same here. Over priviledged upper class white kids trying to be gangsta juxtapositioned against under priviledged black drug dealers trying to get into the business culture of recording artists. There is a great scene where Robert Downey Jr tries to chat up Mike Tyson (this was improvised without Tyson knowing what was going to happpen) and his reaction is priceless. An Altmanesque treat of a film
    Jon H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 10, 2007
    A film that tries to cast Mike Tyson as an intellectual is never going to be that good. Odd film that shows how some white kids think it's cool to act gangster. Also shows how a promising basketball player gets caught up in the illegal activities of his friends.
    Dean K Super Reviewer

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