Jemaine Clement, my favorite half of Flight of the Conchords (sorry Bret), stars in “People Places Things” with not one, but two badass black women, and I am here for it.
I’m not gonna lie – at first I thought it was a trick. I saw Regina Hall looking flawless in the trailer and I was like ‘I’m gonna watch it and she’s gonna be a maid or the black best friend or something.’ But you guys, I watched it and that’s totally not the case. It’s not a trick. Someone wrote a movie and cast black actresses as love interests and funny relatable characters and I am in disbelief.
I know I said I’d stop applauding every little example of decency, but dammit, let me have this. (Plus, this really didn’t feel like a disingenuous move to look inclusive. This felt like color-blind casting, and I can get behind that.)
So while I love me some Jemaine in any capacity (even when he had that nasty mullet in Eagle vs. Shark), I’m mostly in love with Regina Hall and Jessica Williams in this movie, who co-star as a literature professor and an art student mother-daughter duo, respectively.
Name another movie where a black woman was cast as either of those things. You can’t, and that’s extra sad because being a professor and studying art isn’t like walking on the moon or some shit. People do it every day, but black women aren’t being cast in those types of roles.More sisters in movies playing actual people with lives and feelings, please. Also, more Jessica Williams in like, everything. Because I love her.
Anyway, the film itself is a bit hipster-y, I admit, but it was marketed as such so I knew what I was getting into. Jemaine stars as an art professor who hates his life, mostly because his longtime girlfriend (and mother of his two twin girls) just cheated on/broke up with him. One of his students (Jessica Williams) ends up setting him up with her mom (the lovely Regina Hall), because that’s totally something a college kid would do.
It’s basically two hours of the down-on-his-luck everyman adjusting to life as a single father, and doing it all to an ever-present folksy indie rock soundtrack. While it isn’t a spectacular film, it was cute and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Did my love of Jemaine Clement and black women playing substantial roles cloud my judgement? Maybe, but I don’t even care. White people get to be normal in movies all the time, but it’s a luxury rarely afforded to black women on the big screen, and so I enjoyed seeing it here.
If you’re anything like me, and your thirst for movies where black women get to be complex characters instead of tired stereotypes is unending, then definitely add this one to the top (front?) of your Netflix list. It’s worth a couple hours of your winter break – I promise.