“Monster’s Ball” came to Tallahassee on Friday, on the wings of acclaim from critics.
Billy Bob Thornton plays Hank Grotowski, a second-generation corrections officer from Georgia.
He can’t seem to decide whether or not he’s a racist – one minute he’s looking in disgust at his slur-slinging father, played by Peter Boyle, and the next minute he’s shooting off a gun to get black children off his land.
Hank is teaching his son Sonny, actor Heath Ledger in a much-too-small role, the ways of being an officer on death row.
Sonny hates the job, and Hank hates Sonny, so their relationship is non-existent. They do have one thing in common, though: They’re having sex with the same prostitute.
On the other side of town is Leticia Musgrove, Halle Berry. Whose husband is on death row and has a son played by actor Coronji Calhoun, who weighs nearly 200 hundred pounds.
Leticia seems way more concerned with the fact that her son has a chocolate fetish, than the fact that her husband has been condemned to die.
A mush-mouthed Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who does little to portray his anxiety, plays her condemned husband, Lawrence Musgrove.
The final time father and son see each other is readily one of the worst scenes in the entire movie. When Tyrell, who is ten, asks why he won’t ever see his father again, the elder Musgrove replies, “‘Cause I’m a bad man.”
This is a great response for a four year-old. But for a young man who has seen his father every week for ten years, this is nothing but childish banter.
Lawrence does indeed die, and Leticia is left with a car that doesn’t work, a grossly overweight son and a house in danger of being repossessed.
A pair of separate events writes both Sonny and Tyrell out of the script, leaving both Hank and Leticia without their sons.
What do Hank and Leticia, after meeting by chance when Leticia’s car breaks down, do to overcome their similar tragedies?
They have sex – lots and lots of sex. The director doesn’t try to fool the audience into thinking that Hank and Leticia’s first time was born out of love – only pure, animalistic need.
Writing them both as drunk was an excellent cop-out – it allowed the director to toss attraction and logic to the wind and focus more on the money shots – Halle Berry’s naked behind.
On Tuesday, Berry was nominated for an Oscar for best actress – why, however, is a mystery. Berry does little more than chain smoke, and in her more anguishing times she can either scream or cry – never both.
Boyle’s performance is too short to be effective; his racism could’ve been mentioned in passing.
All the actors make sure to lay their Southern accents on as thick as molasses, and boy, do they speak s-l-o-w-l-y.
Though Hank and Leticia’s so-called romance is anything but – if anything, Leticia becomes Hank’s live-in whore, with no resistance on her end.
Do not be fooled into thinking that “Monster’s Ball” touches on any relevant points, such as racism, overcoming grief or love in spite of race differences.
This story is so contrived and ends on such a happily-ever-after note that viewers will be left baffled, wondering, “What did I just miss?”