My Cultural Diet

358 reviews of movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, etc. My own private Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp all rolled into one (more info here). Ratings are 100% subjective, non-scientific, and subject to change. May contain affiliate links.

Outlaw Johnny Black
Back in 2009, Michael Jai White wrote and starred in Black Dynamite, an homage/parody to blaxploitation flicks like Black Belt Jones. Though uneven in places, Black Dynamite worked because it leaned hard into nostalgic campiness. I wish Outlaw Johnny Black, White’s homage/parody to spaghetti westerns, had done the same. But Django Unchained and Blazing Saddles this most definitely ain’t. Sure, I laughed several times, and the titular protagonist’s Gospel awakening was an interesting angle, but Outlaw Johnny Black is mostly a squandered opportunity due to its meandering storyline (which isn’t helped by its 2+ hour runtime) and aforementioned dearth of camp. (The shoddy special effects don’t count.) And for all of its racial humor and commentary (e.g., poking fun at Hollywood’s legacy of using non-indigenous actors for Native American roles), the film’s surprisingly toothless. This was clearly a passion project for White, and I’m sure the cast and crew had fun making it, but in this case, none of that resulted in a very good film.

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