THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS is a sticky kiddie film about racial harmony along the innocuous lines of TV's "Different Strokes." Subjecting the viewer to sitcom pieties and soulless Caucasian renditions of hip-hop music, its wholesomeness could backfire and drive music-loving tykes right to the
Marilyn Manson bin at the nearest CD store.
Struggling single mom Gail Tompkins (Belinda Metz) lovingly raises her latchkey brood: Jamie (Elizabeth Hart), Chase (Brian Hart), Marnie (Emily Hart), and Kayla (Alexandra Hart-Gilliams). When she gets laid off, Gail gambles her meager savings on returning to school to ensure her family's future.
To prevent their mom from sacrificing her education, her children withhold an IRS notice about $5000 in back taxes.
Meanwhile, former recording superstar Kendrick Brags (MC Hammer) endures a career slump as he ignores the advice of his agent Lionel Clark (Meshach Taylor) to abandon performing and become a talent manager. A chance meeting with Kendrick at the mall convinces the Tompkins kids to enlist his help
in winning a local amateur contest that offers a $5000 prize. Against his better judgment, Kendrick bonds with the kids and trains them to be cool.
Teenaged Jamie, who has the lion's share of singing talent, is pressured by her boyfriend to blow off the try-out. But she prioritizes her family responsibility, and leads her family to a smashing debut at the competition. They don't win first place, but Kendrick offers to loan Gail tuition and
generously moves the Tompkins clan in with him, as he begins his new career as an impresario.
How quickly the glitzy celebs of yesteryear must refashion themselves as spokesmen for family values! Ex-rapper MC Hammer does his darndest to adapt to the sap content of domestic comedy as big brother to a brat pack of honky kids. The film's real raison d'etre becomes clear, however, when actress
Melissa Joan Hart, star of TV's "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" first appears in a supporting role as a friendly (surprisingly young looking) cabbie who helps the kids out by shepherding them around town (and accepting her cab fare in homemade meals). Hart is the real-life sibling of the film's
stars, and the film appears to have been mom Paula Hart's attempt to jumpstart the careers of her other children by luring in "Sabrina" fans interested in catching Melissa's appearance (her character functions as an older sister to the confused kids in the final nightclub scene, somewhat like her
real-life role as the actors' big sis).
The film sticks to the tried-and-true formula of alternating one-liners and tear jerking so scrupulously that one can almost see the scripters sitting around a conference table debating the topic "How to map out family fun." Nothing about THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS registers as spontaneous. It has that
oppressively preachy air of sanctimonious TV shows like "Touched by an Angel." Warning: when these youngsters sunnily perform their suburban hip-hop specialty, they make the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family singers of yesteryear seem positively cutting-edge. (Sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: PG
- Review: THE RIGHT CONNECTIONS is a sticky kiddie film about racial harmony along the innocuous lines of TV's "Different Strokes." Subjecting the viewer to sitcom pieties and soulless Caucasian renditions of hip-hop music, its wholesomeness could backfire and drive… (more)