Watching the Golden Globes on Sunday, I was super excited to see my favorite new show, Atlanta, recognized by the The Hollywood Foreign Press in winning the award for Best Television series, comedy or musical, and for the show’s creator and director Donald Glover winning for Best Actor in a television comedy or musical. In America’s film and television industry, which is about as diverse of President-elect Trump’s new cabinet, it was wonderful to see much more than lip service being paid to the word “Diversity.”
Moonlight won for Best Drama, Viola Davis took home the Globe for best supporting actress thanks to her splendid work in Fences, O.J. Simpson won for being perhaps the biggest asshole known to man thanks to FX’s phenomenal mini-series the People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which won for Best television movie or mini-series, and Tracee Ellis-Ross took home the globe for Best Actress in a television comedy or musical for her work on Black-ish.
But the biggest revelation of the night spilled forth from the lips of E!s red carpet host Jenna Bush Hager, one of former President George W. Bush’s daughters, and actor Michael Keaton, who let the cat out the bag of the hottest new film to look out for in 2017, Hidden Fences.
I immediately hit up my public relations contacts to see if I could get an advanced look at the film that has been setting the Twitterverse on fire since Sunday night. And sure enough, I was able to get a sneak peak.
Hidden Fences is the remarkable true story of a crooked former muslim cop who turns his life around after being shot in the ass by his wonderful and principled white partner.
Alonzo Akshun Maxson is portrayed by the inimitable Denzel Washington, who is at his absolute best in navigating the character’s complex emotional journey.
After recovering from his gunshot wound, Alonzo is determined to use his second chance to make a difference in the lives of others and be a father to his son. He grows out his afro, which symbolizes his personal growth, and tracks down the son he walked out on after leaving the boy’s mother for a white woman 17 years prior. His son, Jeezus, learns about the origin of his name in a very touching scene that will bring a tear to the eyes of old Knicks fans.
The two hit the playground later that evening for some father-son bonding that makes Alonzo’s 17-year absence melt away. But after Jeezus beats him in a fierce game of one-on-one, Alonzo reverts back to his old selfish ways. His parting words to his son are, “I will not touch the white man’s poison; his drugs, his liquor, his swine, his women. Can I hold $20?”
Alonzo goes on a downward spiral, starts going by his old street nickname, “Red” and uses the $20 to buy drugs, liquor, pork chops and find him some pretty white womenz. He organizes a crew and begins robbing people blind with a dazzling repertoire of breaking-and-enterings.
He quickly grows bored with sneaking into rich people’s homes and decides to get into the narcotics business. He proceeds to blow up and acquires wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But he hates pianos to an emotional level that no one understands. He thought he would parlay all of his drug money into the music business and go legit like Eazy E, but every time he sees a piano, he loses his mind and is blackballed from the entertainment industry.
He goes back to college, and miraculously earns a Ph. D. in one semester. He yearns to teach others how to utilize the gift for gab that has taken him to places that no one could have ever imagined when he was born on Martha’s Vineyard and later prepped at Exeter. His mission in life becomes mentoring others so that they might find, take back and keep their righteous minds.
He then joins the Navy, becomes a psychologist, and helps young servicemen and women come up with poems that can help them get paid for appearances on Def Poetry Slams.
He takes an interest in one young man in particular, convincing him to find the mother that abandoned him. The sailor indeed finds his mother, but Alonzo gets cruddy by pulling the Netflix and chill with her on several occasions. He realizes that he’s falling in love, because they both have something special in common, abandoning their children.
He tries to do the right thing, marries her, and they start a new life with him working as a sanitation man in Pittsburgh. He calls his estranged son in Coney Island, Jeezus, and excitedly screams, “Yo son! I handed in my player card. You got a step brother named Antwone that writes some really bad poetry and shit. My man!”
He adopts Antwone, but he don’t like him.
Things don’t always work out with his new wife, who is portrayed brilliantly by the incredibly talented Viola Davis. They argue, holler, cuss and want to fight sometimes. She loves him, but he still creeps out with his side chick pretty regularly. He eventually impregnates the side joint and bounces, telling his wife, “Maaaan listen, she got a good gubment job with benefits. I’m out!!!”
The side chick, played brilliantly by the film’s director, writer and producer, Tyler Perry, is often in trouble with the law, but she’s also a brilliant mathematician who works for NASA’s space program.
She, with the help of her brilliant female African-American mathematical colleagues on the job, played brilliantly by Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Brad Pitt, train Alonzo to become an astronaut. They send him off on a secret space mission that has come straight from the orders of new President Ronald Flump, who yearns to find evidence that the planet Bigly not only exists, but that it has the natural resources to produce the most life-like toupee’s ever known to man.
Alonzo gets launched into outer space, proud that he will soon be recognized as an American Hero. But when Flump finds out that he is Black, he chooses to shoot down the space craft, blaming the Chinese, which starts World War III.
As the closing credits roll, Flump is seen building a white picket fence on the Mexican border, saying over and over, “I know more about fences than anyone. Believe me.”
The soundtrack, produced by Bowlegged Lou, should garner some Grammy nominations.
I can’t, in good conscience though, give this film two thumbs up. I can however, give it the finger.
Hidden Fences opens nationwide on April 1st.