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Basketball phenom Todd Anderson is the No. 1 NBA draft pick, and is expected to turn around an ailing New Jersey Nets franchise. He gets $30 million for the effort. Todd is a good-hearted kid from a good home with a mother who easily foresees the trouble that kind of money can cause for an impressionable young man—so impressionable that he can’t see his new girlfriend, Brittany, for the gold digger she is.
What better way to knock some sense into Todd and reinforce the values he was raised with than to hold a family cookout? But in this case, “family” comes with “extended” in front of it, and all manner of aunts, uncles and cousins show up. Their timing is exquisite: Todd and his agent are in the midst of trying to secure a lucrative endorsement contract with a cell phone company, and the loud and boisterous family reunion is ruining Todd’s attempt to appear suave and sophisticated. Throw in some petty crooks out to make some money off of Todd, and you have the beginnings of a lesson on the power of money to corrupt and of a family to steer you straight.
When a journalist assumes that Todd is a rough street thug based on the neighborhood he grew up in, he objects and puts his arms around his mother and father. “My parents worked hard for me to get where I am,” he says. His mother adds, “Family values are more important than money.” Indeed, throughout the movie the power of family love, support and forgiveness stands in sharp contrast to the lure of living the fast life of a money-driven sports star. Accepting all of your family, despite individual eccentricities, is also reinforced.
A woman exclaims, “Help me, Jesus.” Todd begins to say grace at the meal.
Almost every adult female in this movie wears an extremely low-cut dress or blouse, exposing lots of cleavage. Two boys talk to a man about his wife’s nipples. A couple begins to kiss, and the man gropes the woman’s posterior. Todd and Brittany lie in the same bed. She’s in a nightdress and he’s wearing pajama bottoms, and it’s a safe bet they spent the night together. Two boys in a garage look at Brittany’s backside, and one says, “I wouldn’t mind parking in that.” Brittany insults a welfare mother with many children (“You, little ghetto bird, need to invest in a diaphragm”). She tells the kids, “No one knows who your daddies are.” A female security guard has several phone conversations with a man who is apparently running around on her. One woman refers to another as “skanky.” A man fantasizes about a ménage à trois. Crude jokes depend on sexual double entendres.
A playground basketball game turns violent, and one man is knocked to the ground by an elbow to the face. Two men rob a convenience store and hold a gun on the clerk. These same men crash the cookout and hold the family at gunpoint. Reckless driving results in a car flipping into a ditch, but the occupants aren’t hurt. The security guard brandishes an assault rifle and two cousins get their hunting rifles in an attempt to foil a robbery.
Crude or Profane Language
A woman begins to mouth the f-word before the camera cuts away. Numerous uses of "a--," "h---" and "d--n." A woman is called a "b--ch." Two men use the racially charged n-word to refer to each other. Jesus' name is abused once. A man talks about horse manure and uses the s-word a dozen times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Two cousins drive a car filled with marijuana smoke and also smoke pot in a garage, although they’re never actually seen holding a joint. A judge catches them, and rather than rebuke them, he joins them. Beer is served at the cookout. One character always has a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
Other Negative Elements
There’s bathroom slang and diaper humor. Loud flatulence is used twice as a joke. A sports agent is lauded for having a “whatever it takes” attitude. A woman wears a $1,200 dress that she intends to return to the store after the party. Danny Glover, an actor who has praised Cuba’s Fidel Castro, plays a character who is clearly meant to mock Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Cookout supports the idea that it's a good thing to have strong parents and a loving, intact family. And it attempts to scold those who lead materialistic lifestyles. That doesn't keep this mess of a movie from being just plain awful, though: Sloppy acting, disoriented directing, stilted dialogue, drug references and grade-school potty humor overwhelm the story. It plays on the worst stereotypes of blacks, whites and homosexuals in an attempt to get laughs. And the only truly funny character is a man who spins paranoid conspiracy theories so convoluted and bizarre that you can only shake your head.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Quran Pender as Todd Anderson; Frankie Faison as JoJo Anderson; Jenifer Lewis as Em Anderson; Meagan Good as Brittany; Queen Latifah as Security Officer; Ja Rule as Bling Bling; Ruperto Vanderpool as Wheezer; Jonathan Silverman as Wes; Danny Glover as Judge Crowley; Farrah Fawcett as Mrs. Crowley; Kevin Phillips as Jamal; Tim Meadows as Leroy Lady
Lance Rivera ( The Perfect Holiday)