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November 08, 1994 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-11-08

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 8, 1994

Well-intentioned message movie 'Squad' drops the ball

By SARAH STEWART
When a mediocre film comes with a worth-
while message attached to it, there's always the
ten -
dency
to give
it the
Drop Squad benefit
Directed by of the
David Johnsn doubt.
son Unfor-
with Eriq LaSalle t u -
and Ving Rhames nately,
for a
critic, "Drop Squad" falls into this quandary. Its
got good things to say, but its way of saying these
things leaves audiences with a film that's average
at best.
Based on a short story by David C. Taylor and

director David Johnson's short film adaptation,
"The Session," "Drop Squad" uses the character
of Bruford Jamison, Jr. (Eriq LaSalle) as an in to
the ultra-secretive work of the DROP SQUAD -
an acronym for Deprogramming and Restoration
of Pride. Through exhausting mental and some-
times physical tactics, the DROP SQUAD's mis-
sionis to force African-American "sell outs"back
to "being Black."
According to his sisterLenora (NicolePowell),
who reports Bruford to the SQUAD, Bruford's
success with La Drone advertising has come at
the expense of his own pride and the pride of his
people. And worst of all, Bruford doesn't seem to
see anything wrong with his work. He has no
qualms about promoting Mumblin' Jack Malt
Liquor with the help of a barely clothed Black
woman straddling a bottle or General Otis Fried
Chicken's "Gospel Pak." As long as the products

sell, he's thrilled with his success.,
Johnson organizes the film around DROP
SQUAD deprogramming sessions and appropri-
ate flashbacks to the incidents leading up to his
"DROPping." Although this is the only conceiv-
ably interesting way to structure a film in which
the past and present are so intimately connected,
it leads initially to confusion and ultimately to
redundancy. The flashback technique becomes
formulaic, as Bruford's betrayal of his cousin Flip
and the faltering relationships with his fellow
Black co-workers and his immediate family
quickly become predictable.
The portrayal of problems within the DROP
SQUAD is muchmore interesting. Rocky (Vondie
Curtis-Hall), founder of the SQUAD, insists that
they continue their nonviolent approach even
though Garvey (Ving Rhames), second in charge,
argues that effectiveness in the 90's requires more

than tough talking. These conflicts seem much
more complex and immediate than Bruford's
story, although this doesn't mean that there's
nothing legitimately wrong with his wrongdoing.
Although "Drop Squad" is unable to venture
into the exceptional, the actors' energy helps you
believe in the causes they are promoting. Rhames
gives Garvey, who will do virtually anything in
the name of the DROP SQUAD, a frightening
sincerity that avoids the potential of appearing
absurd. LaSalle's almost camp portrayal of
Bruford is effective in both the contrasting con-
texts of his life of luxury with La Drone and the
darkness of his deprogramming.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn't live
up to the actors' efforts. If only Johnson could
install an audience "deprogramming" to con-
vince us that "Drop Squad" is a flick worth seeing.
DROP SQUAD is playing at Showcase.

MI

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Eriq LaSalle
S*M*A*S*H
Continued from page 5
But S*M*A*S*H have more impor-
tant things to think about . Namely,
their incendiary debut, "Self Abused."
The album, like the band, is uncom-
promising. Ed recalled about making
the record: "We recorded it after 70
gigs in Britain and we were pretty
shattered. But I loved making the al-
bum. I'm very proud of the end result."
"Self Abused" isn't the only thing
Edisproudof."Lady Love Your Cunt,"
the band's controversial British single,
also has an interesting story behind it:
"I wrote to Germaine Greer and got
permission to reprint that article
(Greer's tract of the same name). We
used that title with the best of inten-
tions, we weren't trying to be rude or -
anything," Ed explained. "When we*
got permission to run the article I felt
vindicated. That article openedmy eyes
to gynecologists and childbirth, and
how fucking horrible doctors can be
towards women."
Controversy is second nature to a
band that makes its own punk mani-
festo. "Punk is an attitude of being able
to do whatever you want to do. If we
wanted to make a soul record, we'dj
make a soul record," Ed said.We're not
tied down to being a punk band.'
Ed is equally down-to-earth about
his band's ideals: "There's no bullshit
attached. It was a dream when I left
school at 15 to be in a band. This is a
dream come true for us, to be touring
America. But we gotitthrough loads of
hard work, and because we deserve it,"
he said confidently.
a A it

SM

Z

S*M*A*S*H' rolls into Club vell '
(19106 N. Woodward, Detroit)
tonight. Doors open at 8 p.m. and
tickets are $5 for those 18 and over.
Call (313) 368-9687 for details.
KAPPA

wi

Continued from page 5
Juvon and Miss Kelli Kale, and big
man Mike Patterson joined the Poets
on stage and showed out big time.
Kale's and Juvon's act brought the
talent show to another level. Mike
Patterson, easily tipping the scales at
some 250 pounds, shocked everyone
with his dancing skillz.
The other competitors weren't to
be outdone, as comedian Horace Sand-
ers, who has already organized two
Black Comedy Nights on campus this
year, was quick to show. His zany
antics, minister impersonations and
sexual "insights" had everyone roll-
ing. The only thing funnier was Blair
Adam's and fellow frat brother
Emerson Merkerson's, impromptu
attempts at free-styling. Sanders won
the competition and the $150 prize.
Aramis Donell and Ayanna Jones,
who call themselves Composure, sung
Changing Faces' hit single "Stroke
You Up." They hit some crazy off-
key notes a few times too many, but
their attempt was respectable. Horace
Sanders' comic performance of R.
Kelly's refrain in "Stroke You Up"
heightened interest in this song.
0 0 Dawg Productions performed a
very decent rap act. Their matching
outfits didn't hurt, either. Sounding
like the long-lost fifth member of Boyz
II Men, J. Alexander Mitchell (prob-
ably the coolest name you'll ever hear)
enchanted all with his interpretation of
Bette Midler's "From a Distance."The
brotha can blow.
Always expected to do the unex-
pected, Kappa Omar Hall was true to
form at the talent show when he chal-
lenged an unwitting fellow fraternity
brother and University alum, Del
Boone, to an "old school" dance con-
test. Del's mastery of "The Wave"
made him a shoo-in for the victory.
But Omar went off, mimicking the
dancing styles of Michael Jackson
and Re-Run from the '70s hit sitcom

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