If you asked a gently reared 11-year-old to come up with a movie about gangsters and hip-hop musicians, the result might be something like this PG-13-rated showcase for tween-friendly R&B sensation Usher Raymond. Up-and-coming DJ Darrell (Usher) is an orphan whose late father's employer, New Jersey Mafioso Frank Pacelli (Chazz Palminteri), looked out for him and bankrolled his college education. Darrell grew up with Frank's kids, wannabe brother Frank Jr. (Anthony Fazio) and mafia princess Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), who's a year away from becoming a hotshot lawyer — not the mob kind, her doting dad assures his underworld pals — so he's is happy to spin discs for Dolly's surprise welcome home party at Frank's swanky ristorante. Unfortunately, the happy get-together is disrupted by a drive-by shooting, and Darrell takes a bullet for Mr. P. — not to worry, it's just a flesh wound, but he does have to convalesce at the Pacelli mansion. So when rebellious Dolly, bridling at her father's insistence that a bodyguard accompany her everywhere until he gets to the bottom of the attempted hit, persuades Frank to agree that she can choose anyone in the house as her designated watcher, she chooses Darrell. Naturally, they fall in love, despite such impediments as her white-bread fiancée (Geoff Stults) and the psychotically jealous Pacelli-family flunky (Matt Gerald) who doesn't hold with interracial consorting. There are guns but no blood, making out but no nudity, club scenes but no sequences in which Usher sings, though he does doff his shirt — but not his jeans — before diving into the Pacelli's pool. There's a bratty little girl who advises Darrell on his love life and tells Dolly that "sistahs gotta stick together," a comic-relief best friend named Busta (Kevin Hart), a flatulent bulldog and a ridiculous "you say buttered grits/I say polenta" riff on the similarities between soul food and Italian cooking. That the 27-year-old Usher isn't much of an actor is no surprise, but he's strikingly uncharismatic for someone who's been in the spotlight since he was six.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: If you asked a gently reared 11-year-old to come up with a movie about gangsters and hip-hop musicians, the result might be something like this PG-13-rated showcase for tween-friendly R&B sensation Usher Raymond. Up-and-coming DJ Darrell (Usher) is an orph… (more)