She Hate Me

2004, Movie, R, 138 mins

Review

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Spike Lee's shrill, juvenile polemic crams ideas about corporate greed, same-sex parenting and racial stereotypes into a narrative torn from the video store's adult-movie section. Harvard-educated African-American executive Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) wants to settle down and have children, but he's still reeling from his ugly breakup with ex-fiancée Fatima (Kerry Washington). His business life, by contrast, is sizzling: He's the youngest vice president in the history of Progeia Pharmaceuticals, and stands to become seriously rich after their revolutionary AIDS vaccine launches. But the suicide of Progeia's chief research scientist (David Bennett), coupled with rumors that the FDA isn't approving the AIDS drug, sends everything spiraling to hell. Company higher-ups Leland Powell (Woody Harrelson) and Margo Chadwick (Ellen Barkin) go into spin-control overdrive in hopes of preserving Progeia's stock value, but the sight of rampant document shredding compels Jack to place an anonymous call to the SEC. He's promptly identified, fired and branded a whistle-blower, his bank account is frozen and his name is professional mud. The icing on the misery cake is that Fatima is back, hand-in-hand with her foxy girlfriend, Alex (Dania Ramirez), and offering an indecent proposal. She and Alex both want to get pregnant; they don't like sperm banks and adoption agencies don't like the likes of them. Will Jack help out for $10,000 cash? Thus begins Jack's new career as sperm donor to well-heeled gay women of all shapes, sizes, colors and personal proclivities, every one of whom (except Alex, whose personal issues with her girlfriend's ex get in the way) wants the goods delivered the natural way. For all the faux-provocative bluster, Lee and co-writer Michael Genet concoct an astoundingly muddled argument that starts by equating literal and metaphorical screwing — even though Progeia's malfeasance leaves shareholders bankrupt and betrayed while Jack's customers are thoroughly happy with their transactions. Genet and Lee's blunt metaphorical connection between Jack and security guard Frank Wills (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who caught burglars rifling the Democratic National Committee's Watergate offices and died penniless and forgotten while the conspirators cashed in on their notoriety, is labored, and his kangaroo trial by Congressional committee is simply preposterous. And finally, the film's "challenge" to stereotypes of sexless sapphists and insatiable black men consists of putting a five-times-a-night stud at the service of hoochie lesbians, topped off by the suggestion that what female couples really need is to form a ménage à trois with a man. If it weren't all so cluelessly sleazy it might be funny. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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