Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch Now: Baseball Phenom Mo'ne Davis Inspires in Spike Lee Doc 'I Throw Like A Girl' Watch Now: Baseball Phenom Mo'ne Davis Inspires in Spike Lee Doc 'I Throw Like A Girl' New Daytime Talkshow 'The FAB' w/ Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee Coming to ABC New Daytime Talkshow 'The FAB' w/ Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee Coming to ABC Watch: Everything Else You've Wanted to Know About 'The Wire' - Cast Reunites for Hour-Long Chat Watch: Everything Else You've Wanted to Know About 'The Wire' - Cast Reunites for Hour-Long Chat Sundance Institute Announces New Artist Development Programs Coming to 8 US Cities Sundance Institute Announces New Artist Development Programs Coming to 8 US Cities TV Series Based on Queen of Salsa's Celia Cruz is Underway; Puertorican Actors Jeimy Osorio & Modesto Lacen Star TV Series Based on Queen of Salsa's Celia Cruz is Underway; Puertorican Actors Jeimy Osorio & Modesto Lacen Star Weekend B.O. Oct.17-19 - How Did 'Dear White People' Do and What Might it Mean? Weekend B.O. Oct.17-19 - How Did 'Dear White People' Do and What Might it Mean? Trailer Debut: 'Black Dynamite' Season 2 Arrives Trailer Debut: 'Black Dynamite' Season 2 Arrives Review: 'Mike Tyson Mysteries' Proves That Iron Mike Isn't Afraid to Dress Himself Down Review: 'Mike Tyson Mysteries' Proves That Iron Mike Isn't Afraid to Dress Himself Down Donald Glover Adds to Growing Film Slate - Joins Cast of Ridley Scott's Sci-Fi Thriller 'The Martian' Donald Glover Adds to Growing Film Slate - Joins Cast of Ridley Scott's Sci-Fi Thriller 'The Martian' It All Started at a BSU Meeting: Justin Simien on 'Dear White People', Raven-Symoné, and the Black Art House (Interview) It All Started at a BSU Meeting: Justin Simien on 'Dear White People', Raven-Symoné, and the Black Art House (Interview) The Cast of 'Drumline: A New Beat' Talk How the Original Movie Impacted Them The Cast of 'Drumline: A New Beat' Talk How the Original Movie Impacted Them Lifetime Releases First FULL Trailer for 'Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B' (Premieres Saturday, 11/15) Lifetime Releases First FULL Trailer for 'Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B' (Premieres Saturday, 11/15) In Wake of 'Gotham' Controversy Comes 'Painted Down' - New Doc Chronicling Struggles & Hard Fought Victories of Black Stunt People In Wake of 'Gotham' Controversy Comes 'Painted Down' - New Doc Chronicling Struggles & Hard Fought Victories of Black Stunt People 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) ABC Is Making Changes To The Next-Day Online Availability Of Its Series ABC Is Making Changes To The Next-Day Online Availability Of Its Series Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

ABFF 2013 Review: Shaka King's Stoner Comedy 'Newlyweeds'

Shadow and Act By Zeba Blay | Shadow and Act June 21, 2013 at 3:45PM

Newlyweeds, the debut feature of writer-director Shaka King, is many things. It is an intriguing new take on the stoner comedy, the romantic comedy, and one might even say the “black comedy.”
0
Newlyweeds
Newlyweeds

Newlyweeds, the debut feature of writer-director Shaka King, is many things. It is an intriguing new take on the stoner comedy, the romantic comedy, and one might even say the “black comedy.”

It’s a charming independent venture that takes chances, many of which that work, in presenting a love story about growing up and growing apart. It’s also really funny. The film focuses on couple Lyle (Amari Cheatom) and Nina (Trae Harris), two twenty-somethings who spend a rather large portion of their time together getting high. Nina is a free-spirited tour guide at a local museum, while Lyle holds down a job he absolutely despises as a repo man for a seedy rent-to-own company.

Together, they create a bubble, a retreat from the world in their small New York apartment, where they share blunts and share dreams about changing their lives and traveling to distant lands together. But what once kept the couple close drives a wedge between them when Lyle complains about Nina’s proclivity for dipping too heavily and too frequently into their stash, while she criticizes him for spending all his money on weed when he could be saving up for their future travels. After some heated arguments, a night in jail, and a bad experience with a vaporizer and alcohol (which he usually never touches), Lyle’s life almost instantaneously spirals out of control.

Granted, a film about two stoners could never really go the route of a Requiem for a Dream or Candy, but if anything the weed serves as a catalyst that opens up the cracks of bigger issues in their relationship. Thankfully, though, the fighting and the emotional drama is juxtaposed with humor - one particularly funny scene involves Nina looking on in horror as a group of elementary school children accidentally eat a batch of pot brownies in her bag - comedy most definitely ensues. Still, the humor is accessible to stoners and non-stoners alike, an impressive feat when you compare the film to more traditional stoner fare in which literally every joke is about smoking pot.

As the couple’s relationship fractures and Lyle’s life turns into what can only be described as a hot mess, the movie does at moments suffer from a lack of focus that mimics its main character’s own state of mind. But ultimately, shot in a fluid, intimate style, it’s the chemistry and charisma of Cheatom and Harris that makes the movie work so well. With her quirky dress-sense and striking looks, Harris’s Nina could easily be played up as just another manic-pixie-dream-girl type, but she is as dynamic and complex as Lyle, who is severely flawed but never so much that he himself turns into a caricature of a stoner. 

The film, which employed the use of the popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter to finish production, is clearly a labor of love, and one definitely worth seeing.

Phase 4 Films will open the crowd-pleaser on September 182013, at Film Forum theaters in New York City.

It's also screening at BAMcinemaFest this month, in Brooklyn, NY.


Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, Africa Style Daily, and Slant Magazine. She co-hosts the weekly podcast Two Brown Girls, and runs a personal movie blog, Film Memory. Follow her on Twitter @zblay.

This article is related to: Reviews, Newlyweeds


Shadow & ActNewsletter