Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Producer of 'The Walking Dead' Says There’s No Conspiracy to Kill Off the Black Male Characters Producer of 'The Walking Dead' Says There’s No Conspiracy to Kill Off the Black Male Characters Roger Moore Says Idris Elba as James Bond is "Unrealistic" Because He's Not "English-English" Roger Moore Says Idris Elba as James Bond is "Unrealistic" Because He's Not "English-English" Dr Dre Hopes the N.W.A. Movie Will Correct Notions of the Group's Treatment of Women + Working on Inspired Album, More Dr Dre Hopes the N.W.A. Movie Will Correct Notions of the Group's Treatment of Women + Working on Inspired Album, More TV Casting Directors React to Deadline's "Ethnic Castings" Article (A Fad That Will Eventually Pass?) TV Casting Directors React to Deadline's "Ethnic Castings" Article (A Fad That Will Eventually Pass?) Taraji P. Henson Will Host 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time in April (How Many Black Women Have Hosted?) Taraji P. Henson Will Host 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time in April (How Many Black Women Have Hosted?) For White TV Writers Who Have Considered Racism When *Ethnic* Diversity Is Too Much For White TV Writers Who Have Considered Racism When *Ethnic* Diversity Is Too Much 'Key & Peele' "Substitute Teacher" Sketch to be Developed as a Feature Film 'Key & Peele' "Substitute Teacher" Sketch to be Developed as a Feature Film New Documentary Will Trace History of "Black Dandyism" (Trailer) New Documentary Will Trace History of "Black Dandyism" (Trailer) Best Performances By Black Actors/Actresses Ever? (Survey) Best Performances By Black Actors/Actresses Ever? (Survey) Tyler Perry Studios Forms Film, TV & Infrastructure Alliance w/ 4 Other Major Atlanta Studios Tyler Perry Studios Forms Film, TV & Infrastructure Alliance w/ 4 Other Major Atlanta Studios Watch: Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image in Award-Winning Short Film 'Yellow Fever' Watch: Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image in Award-Winning Short Film 'Yellow Fever' Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe are a Dysfunctional Mother-Son Pair in Trailer for 'Knucklehead' Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe are a Dysfunctional Mother-Son Pair in Trailer for 'Knucklehead' 'Single Ladies' Returns Tonight to a Rebranded Centric - "The First Network Designed for Black Women" 'Single Ladies' Returns Tonight to a Rebranded Centric - "The First Network Designed for Black Women" What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) 73 New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season. Here's the Full List 73 New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season. Here's the Full List HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' 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...

Sundance 2013 Review: Shaka King's 'Newlyweeds'

Shadow and Act By Zeba Blay | Shadow and Act January 19, 2013 at 8:16PM

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.”
3
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 accidently 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.

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, Sundance Film Festival


Shadow & ActNewsletter