Nineties race comedy American Milkshake is a story of a teen whose “coming of age” moment never comes—unless you consider taking one of his girlfriends to the abortion clinic a sign of manhood. How he has two girlfriends and ends up impregnating one is all part of white Jolie’s ultimate plan to be more “black.” His desire to be on the basketball team centers on hanging with the “thugged out” Maple Avenue crew of African-American teens. Meanwhile, his great-great-grandfather was one of the most famous blackface performers of his time. Like great-great-grandfather, like great-great-grandson? Blinded by racist stereotypes, Jolie sees “gangsta” qualities where there are none to be found: For example, his teammate Arius is more preoccupied with writing computer code than aspiring to being in the NBA. In a dumb but calculated fashion, Jolie climbs the imaginary ladder to being “cool”: dating a pregnant black girl, making the varsity basketball team, dating a cheerleader he thought was Latina. All the while, he never learns what his Indian best friend, Haroon, has already realized: “‘Being yourself is cool.’” But it’s not surprising that Jolie never grows up, since not once does he have to face any real consequences for his actions. The fact that Jolie isn’t very likable would be less of a problem if this film were actually funny, but his selfish disregard for those around him only ends up making us feel bad for the people who care about him. And the only humor is more nostalgic than funny, as we see glimpses of Netscape, Super Nintendo, Timberlands, and other ’90s gadgets and trends. Though I guess Haroon insisting that the World Wide Web is the future after discovering a photo of a naked woman online could be considered comedy.
David Andalman, Mariko MunroTyler Ross, Shareeka Epps, Georgia Ford, Leo Fitzpatrick, Eshan Bay, Danny Burstein, Nuri Hazzard, Anna FriedmanDavid Andalman, Mariko MunroPhase 4 Films