Bright – And the “Will Smith Imbroglio”

Just finished watching Bright, the new Netflix flick starring Will Smith, Noomi Rapace, and a bunch of CGI. But before I tell you what I thought of that stinkfest, let me explain a little about my relationship with its star, the Fresh Prince himself.

Now, when I say “relationship,” keep in mind I’ve never met the guy, but he’s been a part of my life since the mid-1980s. I’ve been a fan of Hip Hop ever since “Rapper’s Delight,” and when DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince hit the scene, Smith’s comedic story raps instantly drew me in. Rock The House and He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper are classic albums of the genre.

Then, someone convinced the Fresh Prince to become Will Smith, the actor. Even though his rap career had plateaued by the release of Homebase, he could have closed out his rap career, and had a residency in Vegas, performing “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and “Summertime” to lounges full of drunk old-timers. Instead, we had that stupid TV show, where his shufflin’, and muggin’ to the camera got old extremely fast.

He then transferred to the silver screen for more muggin’, and it was cute, at first. He tried to play a more serious role in the movie version of Six Degrees of Separation, but couldn’t even fully commit to playing a gay dude (I’m not gay either, but if the script says “kiss the man,” kiss him, or don’t take the role). By the time I tried and failed to make it through the first Men In Black movie, I resigned myself to giving movies starring Will Smith a hard pass.

Full disclosure: Bad Boys and Independence Day are two of my favorite movies, that I can and do watch repeatedly. But not because they are “good” films; because they are entertaining and fun. Is Bright entertaining? Ehh, it was more entertaining when it was called Alien Nation. Or Training Day. Or Enemy Mine. Or The Fifth Element. Or 48HRS./Lethal Weapon/Tango & Cash, etc. Is it fun? No, it is not. Any movie that starts out with the supposed “good” guys having a morning conversation that includes “go kill that fairy,” automatically qualifies as not-fun.

Bright takes place in a modern-day Los Angeles, where humans exist alongside fantasy mainstays such as orcs, elves, and fairies. Oh, and dragons (more on that later). Elves are at the top of the caste system, while the ogre-like orcs are at rock bottom. Fairies are this world’s equivalent of mosquitoes, bats, or other flying pests. Which begs the question: Do those other flying pests exist anymore? Forget that, I have a better question: Does discrimination still exist between the different races of humans? We don’t know, and the movie doesn’t care.

What we do know is, humans hate orcs, and humans and orcs both hate the one and only orc cop, Nick Jakoby. How’d Jakoby make it through the police academy if every single cop on the force hates him? See the non-answer to my previous questions. Will Smith’s character, Daryl Ward, is saddled with Jakoby, who alternates between street-savvy defender of the law, and wet-behind-the-ears pollyanna, with a change in wind direction. When Sergeant Margaret Cho says there might be bad guys under the desk in the patrol room, Jakoby actually checks.

Ward and Jakoby soon find themselves charged with protecting an elf named Tikka, who’s definitely in the wrong part of town.

“Tikka” is Elvish for either “Deus Ex Machina” or “Leeloo Dallas Multipass.”

Tikka’s also got a magic wand. That is, she had a wand, until the corrupt cops decide to steal it and kill our heroes. Ward, Jakoby and Tikka escape with the wand, and will have to fight their way through some of L.A.’s meanest streets, while doing the usual buddy-cop bonding. Getting back to that magic wand: It’s not a euphemism for a new synthetic street drug, or a male body part, it’s an actual magic wand. And everybody wants that wand. Because it’s, as Jakoby puts it, “A nucular (sic) weapon that grants wishes.”

This movie’s alternate title.

Oh, this movie’s chock-full of sparkling dialogue like that. To wit: “That’s when the triple-stupid sh*t’s gonna start,” and “What the f*ck about my demeanor gives you the impression that I want to be a target on the department’s orc-diversity radar?” Huh? What the hell does that even mean? You could’ve just left it at “No.” Did M. Night Shyamalan come in and ghost-write that line? Most bad films have either a bad plot or a bad script. This one’s got plenty of both.

Ward and Jakoby escape all the shootouts, car chases, and hostage situations not because they’re particularly skilled, but because they’re the stars of the movie. But getting back to the wand, again: Only a “bright” can wield a wand. If anybody else touches it, they blow the f*ck up. Literally. Of course, random humans pick up the wand and don’t explode, mainly because the script probably said “not explode.” I thought “Bright” was one of the cop’s last name. Turns out it’s an adjective-turned-noun who this movie’s only tangentially about.

So, is the movie bad because of Will Smith? Nah, he’s just Will being Will. In Suicide Squad, he was Will the marksman assassin. In this, he’s Will the cop. Same old shtick; I chuckled exactly one time at his many, many quips. Matter of fact, in more talented hands, a movie about orcs, elves and magic wands set against a gritty urban landscape could’ve worked out great.

This guy’s hands ain’t talented.

This thing though, is a mess from the word go. Which is too bad, because I wanted it to be at least campy fun. Like I said, I loved Independence Day; that’s schlock cinema at its best. This is just… nah. One and a half out of five stars.

(Oh, and that dragon? It’s just flying across the L.A. skyline, easy as you please. A big-ass dragon. What happens when that dragon decides to take a nap in your backyard? Do you call Dragon Control, and they come out in fireproof suits and a net the size of a football field?)

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