Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Teens > African American > Homelessness > Military > America (2009/Sony DVD) + American Son (2008/Miramax DVD)

America (2009/Sony DVD) + American Son (2008/Miramax DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+/B-     Extras: C-/C+     Features: C+/B-



As jobs have been shipped overseas and merger-mania has further reduced the marketplace, early-to-middle American Capitalism that should have just expanded and expanded turned into late capitalism by design and further hampered opportunity for millions.  For African American males, it is especially hard, starting with racism and moving on to so many other problems.  Two films recently looked at the problem in two very different situations and are ironically titled similarly.


America (2009) is a TV movie about the title character (Philip Johnson) caught in a cycle of homelessness and bad foster care.  At 16 years old, he is very smart and a good guy, but his life has not always been good and has been even ugly, yet he might get some help from a social worker (Rosie O’Donnell, a co-writer and co-producer on the project) who takes her work very personally and very seriously.


American Son (2008) has Nick Cannon as a 19-year-old U.S. soldier visiting home for a few days, going back home to the dead-end neighborhood he grew up in.  He has some friends, but things have changed and there is a sense of detachment, as well as realization that both worlds (like in say, The Deer Hunter) are opposite ends of the same coin.


They have about the same 90-minutes running length and speak to the idea that our brightest and best include many African American males.  If they are predictable, it is because the traps, limits and problems are so obvious and need to be addressed.  In the former, the foster care system is a wreck, in part because this is a society that cannot explicitly take the initiative to protect children’s rights, especially when it comes to government policy.  Even those serving proudly in the military do not get the opportunities they deserve when you would think that would put them in the front of the line.


Though neither film is able to go beyond their book-like narratives, each are smart enough, well-intended, well-acted pieces worth your time and consideration.  What they have to say and show is not going to be changing anytime soon, though having an African American president might be a starting point to change things.  However, there is much work ahead for true change.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on America and 1.85 X 1 on Son are evenly matched as the former is an often soft telefilm, while the latter is an overly stylized and slightly downgraded presentation.  Some digital work exists in each and neither has any strongly memorable shots.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 on both is good, but not great, especially the TV movie, which is stretching the sound out a bit.  Both have making of behind the scenes pieces, but Son also has deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director, who also does a feature-length commentary with Producers Danielle Renfrew and Michael Roiff.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com