Issues Movie Review

Writer-director Van Elder starts off his film Issues with a two-part dictionary definition of his film's title, one part of which is "unresolved problems." Sadly, that phrase doesn't just define the title.

It's difficult to give praise to this sometimes daring first feature effort when Elder and crew fail too often to hide their amateur cracks. Poor sound editing, film editing, and lighting all mar any pluses. Bottom line, if you can't even edit a scene together properly, you need to go back to film school. Regardless of the quality of the dialogue and acting (which are spotty at best), this film should not have gone out to the public in this state.

Issues opens with its best scene: straight-laced Royce (Ben Watkins), wannabe playboy Damien (Laz Alonso), and even-keeled Will (Mailon Rivera) are playing dominoes, discussing relationships, the war in Iraq, and everything in between (including how one might cause the other). And then it's downhill from there.

Royce is dating a born-again Christian (Janora McDuffie) who won't give him any play. Meanwhile, Damien can't get enough. In the middle of this, Will is moving back east, and sets up his L.A. roomies with a new third: hot, aspiring actress Toni (Shawna Rodgers). Adding to this Three's Company scenario, Toni's friend Nicole (Barri Whittaker) is in an unhappy relationship with big time agent Carson (played by a very clean-and-sober-looking Todd Bridges), building tension between her and Damien, with whom she keeps crossing paths.

Will Royce ever get his groove on? Will Damien ever teach Nicole the value of a true man? Is this director for real casting Todd Bridges, and giving him a sex scene!? All these questions are eventually answered, mostly in a series of bits filled with hackneyed dialogue and largely mediocre performances.

The writing is simply a crime. Early on, Elder recycles an ancient "bitch vs. ho" joke and a Chris Rock bit about how "new pussy can't cook." At least, credit your source, man! Later on, he dredges up the "a good man is hard to find, but a hard man is good to find" crusty oldie. And the movie is intercut with "you get it/I'm not going to get it" doorbell scenes that would be lame even in a sitcom. The final insult comes toward the end of the film when Toni exclaims that she's just been cast as the lead in her first feature film: "It's called Issues, and it's by a hot new director!" I'm sure Elder thought that was cute, but it just comes off as desperate after watching this shoddy work.

The film's actors contribute the few saving graces of this "unromantic comedy," mainly Alonso, who plays Damien just wildly enough to give the biggest laughs of the movie. And Bridges turns in a good showing as the sleazebag hotshot from "the William Morris Agency." But the film's weakest link is definitely Rodgers, who turns in a totally wooden, unsexy performance as the supposedly hot and passionate Toni. She doesn't bring a single drop of passion to what should've been the sauciest role.

Issues may be Elder's feature debut, but there's no excuse for the glaring rookie mistakes seen here. When I first requested a copy for review, Elder warned me that this "film is a 'romantic comedy' from a male's perspective," most likely out of concern that - as a woman - I'd judge this film harshly for its blunt take on relationships. Ironically, the subject matter is the best part of Issues; it's the substandard, unprofessional filmmaking, writing, and acting that are keeping it down.

Comments

Issues Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: NR, 2005

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Ouch That Hurt! Justin Bieber And Mayweather Boxing Video "Leaked"

Finally, after years of waiting, we can see what it might possibly look like...

Ouch That Hurt! Justin Bieber And Mayweather Boxing Video

Matthew McConaughey Honored At American Cinematheque Evening

Another awards ceremony, more tributes and praise for Matthew McConaughey...

Matthew McConaughey Honored At American Cinematheque Evening

'Ouija' Cast Joined By Fellow TV Stars For Hollywood's Spookiest Social Seance [Video]

With the forthcoming release of supernatural horror 'Ouija', the cast were joined...

'Ouija' Cast Joined By Fellow TV Stars For Hollywood's Spookiest Social Seance [Video]

Smashing Pumpkins Unveil 'Monuments To An Elegy' In December - Stream Single 'Being Beige' Now [Listen]

Just in time for Christmas, the Smashing Pumpkins will be releasing their...

Smashing Pumpkins Unveil 'Monuments To An Elegy' In December - Stream Single 'Being Beige' Now [Listen]

Remembering Jamaican Reggae Legend John Holt

John Holt, the legendary reggae singer and member of the ska band, The Paragons, passed away in a London...

Remembering Jamaican Reggae Legend John Holt

There's Hope For Us Yet! Pink Floyd Likely To Beat One Direction

It's frustrating for any musical connoisseur that carefully manipulated pop...

There's Hope For Us Yet! Pink Floyd Likely To Beat One Direction

Keanu Reeves' 'John Wick' Has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes - Best. Film. Ever.

Admit it. You thought John Wick was going to be a big, fat flop didn't you?...

Keanu Reeves' 'John Wick' Has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes - Best. Film. Ever.

Goodfellas Vs The Simpsons: 'Goodfellas' Actor To Sue Fox Over The Simpsons Mob Character

'The Simpsons' face a lawsuit of $250 million after Frank Sivero, who...

Goodfellas Vs The Simpsons: 'Goodfellas' Actor To Sue Fox Over The Simpsons Mob Character

Led Zeppelin Sort of Lose First Round in 'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit

Maybe this lawsuit won't be as easy to win as Led Zeppelin probably assumed...

Led Zeppelin Sort of Lose First Round in 'Stairway to Heaven' Lawsuit
Advertisement