Film Review by Kam Williams
A Blackface Variation of “Babe” with Street Cred
In 1965, the federal government issued the historic Moynihan Report chronicling the collapse of “The Negro Family” which it blamed on a host of social woes afflicting inner-city African-American communities. A half-century later, blacks and whites still remain substantially separate and unequal.
Evidence of the disparity abounds in Sweaty Betty, a super-realistic buddy flick set in a Prince George’s County, Maryland ghetto located in the shadow of the nation’s capital. There, we find a cornucopia of colorful characters inhabiting a den of iniquity that it’s hard to believe exists, but obviously does.
The stars of this must-see adventure are Rico and Scooby, a couple of uneducated, unemployed, unmarried single-fathers. To call the pair actors would be far too generous, since they’re obviously simply playing themselves.
That makes it difficult to discern whether one is watching a comedy or a documentary, although that dilemma only adds to the quirky picture’s appeal. Everybody on their block speaks such inscrutable Ebonics that directors Joseph Frank and Zachary Reed had the good sense to use subtitles, despite the fact that the entire cast is speaking in English.
The dialogue is not only grammatically-incorrect but is invariably delivered laced with expletives and the N-word. And the conversations are precisely what one might expect of 20-ish baby-daddies with nothing better to do all day than hang out on the street.
One minute, our heroes are commiserating about the burdens of fatherhood, the next, they’re shamelessly flirting with a couple of cute honeys passing by. Meanwhile, their neighbors appear to be equally rudderless, as they spend their time boasting, twerking, mugging for the camera and/or engaging in meaningless chatter.
Oh, Sweaty Betty does have a rudimentary plot, which revolves around a couple of pets: a pig named Charlotte, and a pit bull the protagonists can’t decide what to call: Cocaine, Killer or Petey (since it looks like the pooch on The Little Rascals).
These wannabe entrepreneurs have been raising the hog in the ‘hood with hopes of having it become the mascot of the Washington Redskins. So, on home gamedays, they drive the half-ton oinker to the stadium via pickup truck to participate in all the parking lot hoopla. Unfortunately, it eventually comes to the attention of the local animal control officer that somebody’s raising a farm animal in a residential neighborhood.
But don’t be fooled. Sweaty Betty’s storyline is inconsequential, at best. Yet, it remains highly recommended for cinematic voyeurs who like laughing from a safe distance at the outrageous flamboyance of a hot ghetto mess.
A blackface variation of Babe (1995) with street cred!
Excellent (4 stars)
In Ebonics with subtitles
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Breaking Glass Pictures