Dir/scr: Russ Parr. US. 2011. 104mins
Joining a growing list of US releases targeting the African American audience, 35 & Ticking is a watchable though sitcom-ish romantic comedy looking at love and marriage through the eyes of four thirty-something friends.
The performances are mostly good, with Parker, Jones and Robinson supplying the drama and comic Hart going mostly for laughs.
The film’s limited domestic theatrical release on May 20 (with a frankly puzzling R rating) won’t turn writer-director Russ Parr into the next Tyler Perry but it could earn the nationally-syndicated radio host - who has three previous films under his belt and his own on-air promotional platform - some additional film industry recognition. With a relatively unknown cast the film’s international prospects are probably very limited.
First glimpsed as school kids before the story cuts to the present day, the four friends are successful but still single broadcaster Zenobia (Nicole Ari Parker, from Imagine That), married but so far childless Victoria (Up in the Air’s Tamala Jones), geeky bachelor Clevon (Death at a Funeral’s Kevin Hart) and not-so-happily married father Phil (Keith Robinson, recently seen in Dear John).
The script takes each character through romantic ups and downs and intersperses the serious dramatic scenes with broad comic sequences involving, for example, Clevon’s ‘job’ at a sperm bank and a cocky basketball player who hits on every woman in sight. Some of the comedy is fun - though too many gags are essentially repeated - but it stops the film building up much dramatic momentum until its last quarter hour.
The performances are mostly good, with Parker, Jones and Robinson supplying the drama and comic Hart going mostly for laughs. Also in the cast is Meagan Wood, from recent African American comedy success Jumping The Broom. Production values are adequate but suggest that the film was made on a tight budget.
Production companies: Up to Parr Productions, Swirl Films
US distributor: Image Entertainment
International sales: Swirl Films www.swirlfilms.com
Producers: David Eubanks, Eric Tomosunas
Executive producers: Russ Parr, Kym Whitley, Mike Epps
Cinematography: Jeff Bollman
Production designer: ‘Jungle Jim’ Shaughnessy
Music: Kenneth Lampl
Main cast: Nicole Ari Parker, Tamala Jones, Kevin Hart, Keith Robinson, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Meagan Good