In the Mix
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New York nightclub deejay and professional ladies’ man Darrell has dreams of someday running his own record label and recording studio. His career plans go on hiatus, though, when he takes a bullet for mob boss Frank, a longtime family friend. Concerned about the safety of his daughter, Dolly, who’s returned home from law school, Frank asks Darrell to be Dolly’s bodyguard. But when things heat up between the pair, Dad’s not a happy camper, especially considering he still can’t find his would-be assassin.
Darrell honors Frank by following his directions to keep an eye on Dolly. (He keeps too much of an eye on her, though, as reported in "Sexual Content.") Twice, he puts himself in danger’s way to protect her.
Darrell has lost both of his parents, but he maintains a positive attitude by calling his friends and neighbors his family. Frank shows affection (that’s reciprocated) to both his son and daughter, and he compliments Darrell.
A hit man twice makes the sign of a cross at a mobster’s funeral. Dolly admits that her dad is “no alter boy.”
Amidst some suggestive club dancing, a nameless girl flips up her miniskirt to briefly reveal her bare backside. Several women wear low-cut tops, and Dolly dons a bikini during a pool scene. She’s also shown in the shower, though the camera refrains from showing nudity. It does, however, ogle over Usher ... um, Darrell while he takes off his shirt. Twice the Don Juan gets hot and heavy with a female partner, and both times clothing is removed (again, no explicit nudity). He and Dolly share several passionate kisses, and it’s insinuated that they have sex (they wake the next morning half-dressed).
Darrell’s young daughter, who seems to know more than any adult in the movie, asks Dolly if she’s “done the nasty” with Darrell. The little girl also watches her father passionately make out with a woman (who makes sexual noises) and says her baby brother fell asleep while watching G-String Divas.
Darrell’s sidekick repeatedly asks his buddy to join him at a strip club, suggesting that every holiday and big occasion—be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day or simply surviving a gunshot wound—should be celebrated there. He also makes a few crude comments about particular parts of a particular stripper. The lone male at a yoga class, Darrell eagerly eyes the rows of women in suggestive poses, and the deejay makes a crude reference to a sexual position. A "gay" spa attendant seems interested in Darrell. A woman tries to seduce Darrell by mentioning her taking a shower and sleeping naked. A few other sexual jokes, comments and innuendos are made.
Though minimal blood is shown, a handful of men get shot. Bullets fly as gangsters fire away at each other, and a handful of people are held at gunpoint. A mobster has a large object fall on his head. The body of a dead mob boss is shown, and we hear the sound effects of a man taking out the deceased man’s glass eye. Darrell literally gets kicked to the curb (out of a car) and is roughed up by a thug (as is Dolly). He’s almost drowned by another goon. Dolly slaps one of her father’s assistants. A song mentions murder.
Crude or Profane Language
An f-word is tossed in during the film’s final minutes. The s-word is used twice, while milder profanities ("a--," "d--n," "h---," etc.) appear about two-dozen times. God’s or Jesus’ names are misused a half-dozen times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
At a full-scale bar in his house, Frank offers a toast. Wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks are downed throughout the rest of the movie. Frank urges a potential son-in-law to have more wine with his dinner. Dolly recalls sneaking a glass of champagne with Darrell during New Year’s when they were teenagers. Several gangsters smoke cigarettes. A poker game is clouded by guys smoking cigars.
Other Negative Elements
In the Mix would have you believe Darrell can do no wrong. Womanizing, schwomanizing ... who cares, right? Though portrayed as a hero, Darrell offers up a fair share of bad advice and morals. When a group of Dolly’s friends pounce on him for a man’s point of view, he matter-of-factly explains that men go to strip clubs for the same reason women visit spas: to relax and unwind. “A man’s needs are very simple,” he rationalizes. And his misguided Dr. Love spiel doesn’t end there. He tells another woman that if she wants her man to be faithful and appreciate what he has, she should “let him shop around” for other women—implying that commitment is best built upon a season of “sowing wild seeds.”
What about Darrell’s loyalty to Frank, then? He offers this as a reason to Dolly why they can’t be a couple. (Frank isn’t keen on the racial and societal differences between them.) “I have respect for your father,” he says—and then, within seconds, begins undressing the girl as they spend the night together.
A running joke includes a dog and his owner both being gassy. While gambling during a poker game, a couple of non-gangsters offer their guns in compensation for cash.
Usher, a self-described “triple threat” entertainer—singer/dancer/actor—turns his latest movie into a virtual self-love session in which showcasing himself trumps any semblance of a decent story or noteworthy acting. Usher is The Star of In the Mix. Not that you could miss that fact. Hands claw at him on the movie’s posters. His name is advertised alongside the movie’s title. And his songs run throughout the soundtrack.
It’s one thing to be multitalented; it’s another to flaunt your star appeal. As Bob Longino of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, the movie “never once veers from its main mission. That would be superstar as product placement.”
And what kind of product is being placed? As a multiplatinum-selling artist, Usher is known for his crooning, take-me-back love songs that go from romantic ballads to explicit play-by-play accounts of bedroom action. As an actor who’s appeared in both movies and TV shows since 1997, he usually assumes the role of Mr. Nice Guy, the baby-faced stud who all the ladies just can’t resist. In the Mix’s Darrell combines both these elements as he rationalizes womanizing, strip clubs and one-night stands with that oh-so-cute smile and soft-spoken temperament. Don’t fall for the act.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Usher as Darrell; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Dolly; Chazz Palminteri as Frank; Matt Gerald as Jackie; Anthony Fazio as Frankie Jr.
Ron Underwood ( )