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Published: Friday, 10/28/2005

Movie review: G *

BY CHRISTOPHER BORRELLI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

G - just G, not Gee, or H for that matter - is a small independent production with an even smaller advertising budget, attempting to ride that lucrative wave of small, independent productions committed to landing African-American moviegoers (and sometimes wider audiences) though grassroots marketing and promising word of mouth.

After all, it worked for Diary of a Mad Black Woman and The Gospel - both hung on at multiplexes longer than, say, Stealth.

G, which is opening slowly in a handful of places including Toledo, is far trickier territory. It was shot in 2002. It is produced by Andrew Lauren, best known for being the son of Ralph. And unlike Diary and Gospel, it's not a faith-based production with a denominational message - unless you count the filmmaker's faith in their ambitious premise: a hip-hop-tailored adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby.

Laugh, but the idea is not a horrible one, even if the execution is Lifetime bland, the acting lacks a pulse, and the visuals are as ugly as anything you'll be asked to pay $10 to see all year.

True to Fitzgerald's basic story about a bootlegger who amasses a fortune in order to win over a woman, director Christopher Scott Cherot (Hav Plenty) gives us a Diddy-ish music impresario named Summer G (Richard T. Jones) who builds a bling-bling life in the Hamptons to woo a social climber (Chenoa Maxwell).

G doesn't soak in rap cliches, and it goes out of its way to appear earnest, but in a way, a gaudier take would have been smarter: Fitzgerald wrote of the loneliness of wealth and class distinctions, and G notices those themes but blows past to get to a tedious soap that barely registers what's going on beneath its skin.

There is a film here about the black bourgeois, and the tensions between the Hampton's established elite (represented by Blair Underwood) and the nouveau riche, with their Bentleys, blunts, and bling. Instead, if you've read the book, you're reduced to "Spot the Updating."

Those ever-watchful eyes on that billboard? The East Hampton Neighborhood Association.

Daisy? Now a hoochie mama.

That green light at the end of the dock? Lost in translation.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past - fashizzle.

Contact Christopher Borrelli at: cborrelli@theblade.com

or 419-724-6117.



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