Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 88 minutes
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If the profanity in “Cake” was eliminated, the dialogue in the film would barely fill fifteen minutes of screen time. I’m not exactly Donna Reed, but after hearing nothing but explicit crap (or as my 2nd grade teacher would call it, “potty mouth”) for almost ninety minutes I find myself hoping for a complete sentence with some actual information. “Cake” is a sloppy narrative that, from what I was able to ascertain, is about 3 childhood friends (Shane, Bones and Kash) who are running drugs in Los Angeles. After a great number of phone conversations to each other while sitting pant-less on the toilet, the three friends progressively get greedy and in-turn, end up in a mess of trouble. Sound familiar? As you can probably guess, the movie contains a lot of gun slinging, arguing, drug dealing and driving around in expensive cars. The film even includes the famous “just this last time” scenario. Admittedly it doesn’t play out totally by the “how to make a gansta film” guidebook, but it’s a bit too close for comfort. If it isn’t foul language, the lines usually begin with, “hey, yo, dog”, “check this out”, “yo, yo” or similar. Lines like “on a daily” and “bitch, because I need some new rims for my ride” would be hard to swallow even if the delivery wasn’t totally mechanical. Scenes include the group dining on steak, chicken and grape soda, playing video games, shopping for rims and the list goes on. There’s even an unforgivable section that parodies the Visa “priceless” ads, as if the slew of “funny” gag emails and the never-ending series of TV commercials weren’t enough. A good bit of the narrative in “Cake” is delivered through voice-over, while the film needs the support, the delivery is chilly and unfocused. The movie isn’t exactly uncharted territory, as a matter of fact I’d be willing to bet that at this moment somewhere in a dorm room in America a group of white, suburban, art school kids are preparing for a shoot for Film 101 by filling baggies with powered sugar and rolling up wads of dollar bills.
One major problem with “Cake”, along with many of its counterparts, is that it plays into stereotypes. Everyone in the film is either a “drug dealer, hustler or gangster” and no one is white. The characters are unsympathetic, unrealistic, one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. There appears to be some effort to attribute a bit of depth to Shane, but in the end it falls short. While several areas of the movie are well shot, the story is trite, heavy handed and just downright tries too hard. Many scenes are a bit too similar to other films, they don’t work as a homage or add to the quality of the story or structure, instead they only succeed at discrediting the film further. The opening of the movie is faintly reminiscent to the montage in “Beyond The Valley of The Dolls”, but not nearly as interesting. If the “Menace II Society” and “Dead Presidents” posters on the walls in Kash’s apartment are an indication of interest, Juwan Chung and crew should take a break from watching MTV, study their mentors, use “Cake” as a learning tool and utilize their good intentions (hopefully) and talent to crank out a solid, substantial and more effective second try.
Posted on October 20, 2004 in Reviews by Rachel Morgan
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