NOLA Circus (NR)

Comedy 86 min. April 21, 2017
By Luke Y. Thompson
Imagine, if you will, a parallel universe in which Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing became a massive franchise starter. Now envision the direct-to-video Do the Right Thing 5: New Orleans Humidity! that exists in said reality, and you are sadly close to the heart of Nola Circus. As with any great franchise, all the major talent has bailed when you get this far in, and it's really loose remake time. So while the rivalry and tension between Italian- and African-American neighbors on a block full of wacky and sometimes political characters is still there, the steady hand of the original auteur is not.

French director Luc Annest has ambitions we can applaud, in trying to make a comedy about race relations on a contemporary New Orleans street — he tries to skewer all sides. But we can laud the idea and fault the execution. In the end, this tale of a barbershop employee who accidentally starts a mini race war — by falling for the sister of a pathologically violent rage case in a goofy white afro — trades more on cheap shock humor than legitimate insight. A scene in which helium-voiced Klansmen debate the details of potty-training a dog is genuine comic genius, but alas, most of the rest of the movie relies on jokes about pubic hair and ketamine.

If you're going to use the recurring image of a naked black man with a bag over his head running for his freedom across a bayou, your satire A-game had better be really strong; Annest's, to say the least, is not. Dick-size jokes just aren't especially funny after that.
Luc Annest Vas Blackwood, Dave Davis, Taryn Terrell, Ricky Wayne, Lucius Baston, Robert Catrini, Candice Michele Barley Luc Annest XLrator Media

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