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By Admin | September 14, 2007

Two decades ago, Charles Burnett blamed the commercial failure of his feature “My Brother’s Wedding” on over-anxious producers who submitted the rough cut to the festival circuit. Burnett’s argument was that the film was in need of further editing, but early reviews of the raw footage scared away potential distributors. As a result, the film was not theatrically released.

After all of these years, Burnett’s production is finally getting its time on a big screen in what is billed as a director’s cut. Unfortunately, this is the rare older obscurity that would’ve been better served by remaining out of sight.

Set in the South Central section of Los Angeles in the summer of 1983, the film follows an amiable young man named Pierce whose life is in an advanced state of stagnation. His job in his parents’ drycleaning store is the ultimate dead end monotony, he despises his successful brother’s bride-to-be, and his shiftless best friend has just gotten out of jail but has no prospects for a successful reintegration to society.

So what happens? Very little, it seems. “My Brother’s Wedding” plods from scene to scene with no genuine purpose. Burnett was clearly trying to repeat the formula he spun in his groundbreaking 1977 feature “Killer of Sheep,” which detailed the joys and anguishes of an African-American working class community. But unlike that earlier classic, which pulsated with a genuine sense of personality and intelligence, this film literally dies on screen within its first few minutes.

The film is full of annoying characters played by some of the worst nonprofessional actors ever gathered for a film. The worst of the bunch, Jessie Holmes as Pierce’s bossy mother, is so terrible in her line readings that she sets a new low in bad acting; Everett Silas as Pierce nearly matches her for sheer incompetence. Burnett’s direction is sluggish, his cinematography (he takes credit for that) is monotonous, and the editing is dull.

Forget about “My Brother’s Wedding” – go seek out a “Bridezillas” rerun instead.

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