Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Idris Elba, Ali Larter, Beyonce Knowles, Jerry O’Connell, Christine Lahti, Bruce McGill, Scout Taylor-Compton
Directed by Steve Shill
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
This movie should have been called Single White She-Devil.
Obsessed is the ultimate revenge fantasy thriller for every African-American woman sick of seeing white women taking their finest Nubian men. A crazy white woman is trying to seduce and ruin the marriage of a successful, happily married black family man, and only his sassy, no-nonsense ebony goddess of a wife can put a stop to this home-wrecking honkette. I originally saw Obsessed when it opened in theaters, and when it was over there was a smattering of applause, and you better believe everyone clapping looked like Oprah. Can’t say this movie doesn’t know whom it’s catering to.
Or how about calling it Tyler Perry’s Fatal Attraction since there’s so much talk about the importance of a stable black family and every white person is in some way a detriment to the black man.
Speaking of which, never hire Scout Taylor-Compton as your babysitter; not only is she terrible at her job, the girl is a psycho magnet.
Obsessed makes for a very bad urban thriller, the script playing like it started out as a made-for-DVD sequel to that Lara Flynn Boyle psycho secretary movie The Temp that got rewritten to include less murderousness (one dead body in the whole film and you better believe it belongs to a skinny white blonde) and more questionable racial dynamics. Honestly, reverse the races and ask yourself if this movie would ever get made today.
But as an unintentional comedy it can be quite amusing if you’re in the mood for such. Just hearing Idris Elba yell “Breathe, bitch!” while performing CPR on Ali Larter after she intentionally overdoses in his bed makes it worth watching. Only the bloated 108-minute running time and the PG-13 rating truly prevent it from fully achieving its destiny as trash cinema gold. Too much Lifetime Network melodrama, catfighting women with barely any profanities hurled, a lack of dead bodies (Jerry O’Connell does not get killed – boo!), a chandelier impaling that lacks an impaling, and no nudity even during scenes that practically beg for it. Ali Larter drugs and appears to rape Idris Elba, but she doesn’t get naked and the next morning he wakes up fully clothed as well, so what exactly did she do to him? It’s next to impossible to recommend this movie, but I can’t be a total hater because portions of it entertained me for all the wrong reasons.
Derek Charles (“The Wire”‘s Idris Elba, the only one escaping this nonsense with any dignity still intact) is an executive vice president at a Fortune 500 company in Los Angeles with the most successful modern black family life since the Huxtables. He, his wife Sharon, and his baby have just moved into a fancy new two-story home, as seen during the opening credits when they’re shown strolling through their new house celebrating their life together.
In one of the most obvious moments of foreshadowing I have ever seen, they walk into the attic and discover a soft spot one could fall through and then back out of the room. Believe me, you don’t want to fall through that spot because if you do it’s a surprisingly long straight shot to the very large glass table they’ve conveniently placed right underneath that area, and the only thing that might save you is grabbing hold of the giant chandelier assuming it’s strong enough to support the weight of a shapely blonde clad only in a throwback jersey. The inexplicably vast spatial dimensions of the interior of this two-story house leads me to conclude Dr. Who was their architect.
Now we know Derek is a happily married man because he’s constantly telling us he’s happily married. Co-worker Jerry O’Connell has tickets to the Lakers game and tells Derek to lie to his wife about having to work late so they can go: “No. My wife would kill me. I love my wife. Don’t want to ruin my marriage.” Later O’Connell suggests they go get some lap dances: “I’m married now. I love my wife. I’d never do anything to hurt her.” He tries to avoid drinking alcohol, is constantly slipping off to call his wife, still sends her roses every Monday, and constantly reminds us that he’s happily married, loves his wife and child, and would never do anything to hurt them. You could ask this guy what time it is or if he has change for a dollar, and he’d probably reject your request with a line about how much he loves his wife and baby and would never do anything to hurt them. You can make a drinking game out of it.
All is well in the pussywhipped life of Derek Charles until the day the white she-devil arrives, Lisa Sheridan (“Heroes”‘ Ali Larter, vamping it up like a Susan Lucci wannabe), an office temp who puts the temp in temptress and is highly efficient at her job – extreme efficiency is a surefire sign of evil in movies such as this. Derek’s the first person that she meets, and Lisa immediately sets her sights on him. O’Connell even tells him early on about how a lot of gals like her “view the office as hunting grounds for single successful men and I think she just put you in the crosshairs”, cocking his finger at Derek like a gun, which the director shoots in the most ominous manner possible with threatening music and everything.
Derek may flirt with her a little, but he has no intention of getting involved with Lisa because, after all, he loves his wife and baby and would never do anything to hurt them. Then Lisa attempts to jump his bones in the men’s room stall at the office’s “No Spouses Allowed” Christmas party, followed by a half-naked seduction in his car. Lisa quits her temp gig to devote herself full-time to stalking Derek. There is no explanation behind her sudden psychosis other than the age old adage “once you go black you never go back to being sane”.
Yet, crazy horny Lisa still seems a better option than the banshee of a wife he claims to love so much. Lisa may be insane, but at least she’s not the raging bitch wife Sharon is. Kind of hard to feel completely sorry for Derek because he keeps making the wrong move every step of the way, but it’s impossible not to feel for the guy because this wife that he loves so much and would never do anything to hurt won’t even give him a chance to explain his side of the story when she finally finds out what’s been going on, instantly believing he’s been having an affair and kicking him out of the house. “Get out of my house!” she yells at him even though she’s a stay-at-home mom and he pays all the bills. The poor bastard barely gets a word in edge-wise and is forced to come crawling back begging for forgiveness even though he never did anything to hurt his wife and baby whom he loves so much. Worst for him, he damn near gets kicked out of the movie.
Obsessed is the Beyonce Knowles show from here on out. Imagine Fatal Attraction if two thirds of the way in Michael Douglas got tossed to the sidelines so that Anne Archer could completely dominate the movie. Sharon doesn’t need her husband or the cops to help her when it comes time for her to take off her earrings and behave like a pissed-off Jerry Springer guest charging after the woman that’s been trying to steal her man. The final shot of the film is a freeze of Sharon and Derek embracing but framed like a bad photograph; Elba’s head is cut off from the chin up just to ensure Beyonce’s face fills the screen and reminds everyone who the true star of this film was.
Beyonce Knowles really wants to be a major movie star, an Oscar winner even more so. Remember Dreamgirls? That was supposed to be her Oscar, not Jennifer Hudson’s. Obsessed will not win her any Oscars, but her Sasha Fierce-ly bad performance might win her a Razzie. Just try not laughing at her when she undergoes her metamorphosis during the finale into a street-talkin’ hood rat living out the ultimate black woman’s fantasy of beating the crap out of a skinny blonde white chick: dragging Ali Larter by her hair while yelling “I’m gonna drag your skinny white ass all over my floor!” or punching the white she-devil in her face and declaring “This is for my husband!” before punching her again and screeching “This is for touching my child!”
But then what would you expect from an urban thriller whose original working title was Oh No She Didn’t.
The DVD and the Blu-ray share the same scant featurettes — three of them in total clocking in around ten minutes each. They are all pretty vapid, kind of like the movie only in controlled bursts. I don’t think I need to mention that the picture and sound quality on the BD is superior to that of the DVD. You should all expect that by now. I doubt you’ll be watching anyway.
2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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