She Hate Me

"Grim"

She Hate Me Review


She Hate Me borrows its title from "He Hate Me," a.k.a. Rod Smart of the XFL (the now-defunct WWE-sponsored extreme football league), but just as this pointless non-sequitur of a title has nothing to do with the film it adorns, Spike Lee's latest tosses together largely unrelated social commentary, broad humor, and nonsensical racial and sexual stereotypes in a vain attempt to critique modern-day romance and big business. Beginning with close-ups of billowing U.S. currency which culminate in the image of a George W. Bush-decorated three-dollar bill, and ending with a goofy "go forth and procreate, young man" rallying cry for its whorish African-American protagonist, the film is structured like a series of punch lines aimed squarely at what Lee sees as America's racist, corrupt white power structure. Too bad its story - about courageous whistle-blowing, lesbian procreation, and a black man's need to stand up, take responsibility for his actions, and do the right thing - doesn't do almost anything right.

Lee's initial target for censure is the crooked corporate culture that fosters brazenly greedy and duplicitous companies such as Enron and Worldcom. Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) is a vice president at a pharmaceutical company whose new HIV cure has been rejected by the FDA. When he discovers a conspiracy orchestrated by the corporation's arrogant, racist CEO (Woody Harrelson) and his ruthless Martha Stewart-ish boss (Ellen Barkin) to cook the books and keep employees and shareholders in the dark about the new drug's ineffectiveness, Jack rats out his superiors to the SEC, and the price for betraying "the family" is immediate dismissal. As luck would have it, though, a new money-making venture falls directly into his, ahem, lap - his ex-fiancé Fatima (Kerry Washington), who left him for another woman, now wants to pay him $10,000 to impregnate her and her Dominican girlfriend. Before long, Armstrong - in some sort of filthier version of the Patrick Dempsey '80s cult classic Loverboy - is occupying his time spreading his seed through NYC's upper-crust lesbian community (which includes Monica Bellucci as a Mafioso don's daughter) for wads of cash.

What these two dissimilar story lines have to do with each other is, in the clumsy hands of Lee, left wildly open for interpretation, though the director does imply that Armstrong's sexual side-business is no more corrupt - and, given his honesty, openness, and responsibility in handling this new venture, likely more honorable - than his former white-collar gig. Whorishness is whorishness, Lee seems to be lecturing us, though someone apparently forgot to tell the director that equating sex with big business (which occurs most forcefully through Fatima, who prepares packets and presentations for Armstrong's baby-hungry clients) isn't original or really even sensible. Furthermore, since his satire is brimming with stereotypes and conventions that would make one of Bamboozled's black-faced performers blush, one can hardly distinguish where his outrage ends and his own subtle prejudice begins. White businessmen are bad. Prostituting yourself for money isn't great, but understandable. Shilling for laughs by utilizing a rainbow coalition of gay women caricatures - one's an uptight white prig, one's a mystical Asian who talks about the baby's Chi, one's a vulgar hip-hop star, one's a giant fat butch dyke - is cool, inoffensive, and funny.

Lee further embellishes his narrative by including a Godfather-quoting mob boss (John Turturro) who gives Jack advice, as well as by equating Jacks persecution to the fate of Frank Wills, who we learn from Jack's diabetic dad (Jim Brown) - and then see in a redundant, campy flashback - was the black security guard who discovered the Watergate intruders but then died penniless and alone after receiving no credit for his heroic deed. There may be ample reason for Lee to eviscerate arrogant global multinationals and American culture's preference for building up heroes just so it can tear them down, but the director's maddeningly lurching film never even attempts to maintain a consistency of tone or logic. Jack is ultimately chastised for shirking his parental responsibilities even though Fatima doesn't want a father for her child and has the contract to prove it, and the film's laughably preposterous conclusion foolishly implies that homosexual women are only fully content when fulfilling a man's (in this case, one can only assume it's Lee's) fantasies about happy, bisexual orgies. On second thought, maybe She Hate Me's title does make sense - as foreshadowing for the reaction it'll receive from real-world lesbians.

Seven deleted scenes, a commentary track from Lee, and a featurette comprise the DVD special features.

She hate me, she hate me not, she hate me...



She Hate Me

Facts and Figures

Run time: 138 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th July 2004

Box Office USA: $81.4k

Box Office Worldwide: $365.1 thousand

Budget: $8M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 82

IMDB: 5.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Preston L. Holmes, ,

Starring: as John Henry 'Jack' Armstrong, as Fatima Goodrich, as Margo Chadwick, as Geronimo Armstrong, as Doak, as Simona Bonasera, as Alex Guerrero, as Frank Wills


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