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Theatrical Back on the Strip (2023)

Jason_V

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Title: Back on the Strip (2023)

Tagline: The Chocolate Chips are back, with more nuts!

Genre: Comedy

Director: Chris Spencer

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Spence Moore II, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Faizon Love, J.B. Smoove, Gary Owen, Bill Bellamy, Colleen Camp, Piper Curda, Emelina Adams, Gary Owen, Nicole Butler, Caryn Ward, Alex Kersting, Jennifer Warner, Ryan Alexander Holmes, Sean Patrick Bryan, Buddy Lewis, Judy Lay

Release: 2023-08-17

Runtime: 117

Plot: Merlin moved to Las Vegas in the hopes of becoming a famous magician but gets waylaid by his natural gifts and a place with the black male strippers The Chocolate Chips.

I went into Back on the Strip knowing nothing about what I was in for. If I knew, would I still have seen it?

Probably, because there is promise in the premise (essentially, Magic Mike with a non-white cast): a young man wants to be a magician and he makes his way to Vegas, only to become a stripper who teams with a long-defunct stripping team because of an anatomical gift. Throw in a forced romance, dunking on social media and a too long run time and....we get this.

Back on the Strip is not good. It has a few legit laughs (I don't know how they'd play with a wide audience...I was the only person in my 7 pm screening), but it feels cheap. Not like the budget is crazy low and the filmmakers skimped here and there. No, it feels cheap because it wants to be raunchy and explicit and whatever else and then walks back from that line into "safe" R territory.

This is a movie about strippers and a 24-year-old with an enormous penis. You would think, logically, this movie would be sexy at some point. It's just not. You want to make jokes continuously about someone's penis size, so it stands to reason the audience sees that penis at some point. (Kinda like Chekov's gun). You could argue it is shown, though it's not. But this isn't a major, fatal blow for the movie.

Everything else sinks it: the acting from Wesley Snipes is awful, the jokes are few and far between, the social media influencer (played by Ryan Alexander Holmes) grates on the nerves very quickly, the direction is straight out of Television 101 and nothing that happens-especially the "twist" at the influencer live stream-is a shock.

The less said about the romance and social media influencer and the hoops this cast has to jump through, the better. (There's a socially relevant sequence talking about how cops treat black men...but it's handled with the grace of a sledgehammer.)

I got restless about halfway through the too long two-hour running time, but I hung in there, hoping for something good to happen.
 
Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

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