Bijou Phillips heads an ensemble cast of kids who listen to hip hop and make no bones about the fact that they want to be black. The film has more guest stars than the last season of “The Love Boat.” Here’s a quick rundown: Mike Tyson is great as himself, a real stretch, Claudia Schiffer plays a student working on her thesis (sure), real life basketball star Allan Houston plays her boyfriend who’s offered fifty grand to throw a game, Ben Stiller plays a dirty cop who will use any means necessary to bust an inner city gang, Brooke Shields has a cameo as a documentary filmmaker following the white kids around and Marla Maples does absolutely nothing. Having a hard time keeping up? There are more subplots and needless complications than the plot of Star Wars Episode I.
Director James Toback is brave for tackling such tough subject matter but he could have used some help on the script. Toback is credited with writing this film, but much of what we see has been improvised. “Black and White” brings up a lot of fascinating and serious issues – too many in fact. And that’s the problem. The unfocused story travels through so many subplots that none of the individual stories are ever explored fully enough to pay off.