While lounging with family over the Thanksgiving weekend, I had a rare opportunity to justify my cable bill by watching a few movies featuring many of the hottest current black actors whose name isn’t Denzel Washington. 

I started off with ‘The Harder they Fall’ on Netflix, then moved over to HBOmax for ‘King Richard,’ while ending the weekend back at Netflix binging on ‘True Story.’ It wouldn’t be surprising to talk to 3 different people who all claim any of the three movies were their favorite. They all were great. 

I’ll share a brief overview of each movie and some interesting comments I heard from the critics. 

‘The Harder they Fall’ is fashioned like the old time gun slinging spaghetti Westerns resembling something like ‘Take a Hard Ride’ meets ‘Blazing Saddles.’ The cast is made up of many of the greatest current black actors sharing the spotlight while taking on the roles of well known black cowboys and gals. The movie is action packed blending the serious with the humorous. It definitely had a super surprise ending that likely brought a lot of viewers to tears. 

The one critique I heard was on the casting for Stage Coach Mary who played a big role in the movie. The person who played the part looks nothing like the photos of the real Stage Coach Mary who is dark skinned, tall, and heavy. The actress is light skinned, average height, and slim. It was explained that maybe because she was a love interest in the movie, they choose to make her measure up to contemporary symbols of beauty. The critic believes her depiction in the movie takes away from the story’s authenticity even though the movie makes it plain it’s not based on a true story. 

‘King Richard’ is the story of Richard Williams, father of the tennis duo Venus and Serena Williams. Will Smith absolutely gave one of his best performances as Richard and the two child actors playing Venus and Serena were extremely convincing.

The story follows their humble lifestyle in Compton, California as Richard goes to extraordinary measures to cultivate his daughters into tennis phenoms and good citizens. It’s a wholesome family tale that doesn’t shy away from confronting common family issues and disagreements in an effort to reach the overall family objective. This is another movie that you may want to keep the Kleenex nearby. 

While watching the Black News Channel report on the movie, they mentioned how some viewers were critical that Venus and Serena’s lives weren’t featured as much as they’d like. My immediate reaction was – That’s why they named it ‘King Richard.’ The report went on to say both Venus and Serena had to approve the movie before it could be released and the fact that they did approve it indicates that it is the story they want the world to see. When the Black News Channel anchor came back on, she said the only people who were making that complaint was white women. She then seemed to break roll and said, ‘As a white woman myself, I’ve learned to talk to black women before I talk about them.’ To that, I applauded.

The other complaint I heard is how Will Smith may have overdone it by talking in something less than the King’s English while portraying Richard. To us black folks, Will Smith was sounding like every other old-head black man in the hood who was raised in the south. It didn’t bother me one bit. 

‘True Story’ isn’t a movie. Netflix considers it a short series. It’s packaged in six parts and can be binged in under 4-hours. Figuring most people will binge watch, I’ll put it in the category of movie for argument sake. 

Kevin Hart plays the role of a comic on the road in Philadelphia who is joined by his brother played by Wesley Snipes. There’s nothing comic about this show as the two brothers find themselves in over their heads deep in trouble as they try to help each other out. Those of us from the area are going to love the Philly images, landmarks, and scenes from across the entire city. Other than that, the movie is very dark and somewhat disturbing as we get a peek what can go wrong when celebrity success at the highest level meets family disfunction and envy. It can make for a bad circumstance. 

I haven’t heard any criticism about this show as it seems to be a favorite among the people on my timeline. However, I watched it with my wife who has an uncanny ability to untangle the most complex plot lines rather quickly. Before the end of episode one, she sniffed out the twist that was finally reveled in Part 5. I was so convinced she was right, I just kept watching waiting for the proof that she was right. For those of you who don’t get it right away, I’m sure the show was a lot more suspenseful. 

I must confess, Wesley Snipes is one of my favorite actors and he totally crushed this role. Kevin Hart was good but he basically played himself, a comic on the road, where Wesley carried the show with his role as the big brother always trying to pull a slick one. 

If you asked me my favorite of the weekend, it’s ‘King Richard.’ But, I have four daughters and can relate in large part to the dad character raising 5 daughters.

I stayed awake throughout all three movies which encourages me give them all a 5-Star rating.