It is amazing to see a movie that is as ambitious and bold as Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me” get the critical shaft, while other mindless summer movies make their way into the hearts of critics. As of press time, Rotten Tomatoes has “She Hate Me” at a 21% positive out of 75 reviews, yet such foul fecal matter of cinema, like “The Village,” ends up catching a better break. How can this be? Sure “She Hate Me” is uneven and flawed. Is it the next “White Chicks” that some are so easy to dismiss it as? It sure isn’t.
Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie), a corporate vice president of a pharmaceutical giant, learns of some shady business going on within the higher branches of the company in the vein of Enron or Martha Stewart. When he makes a “confidential” phone call reporting these dirty deeds, he is fired and after the company is exposed, they put the blame on him.
Prior to his termination, Fatima and Alex (ex-girlfriend/newfound lesbian and her lover), offer him a somewhat bizarre proposal. They each want to become mothers but they don’t want some sperm from a bank, because who knows what the donor is really like. She wants Jack’s genes because he is smart, successful, and with perfect physique. At first he struggles with the idea due to a moral dilemma but when he gets fired, he warms up to the idea rather quickly. After he supplies Fatima and Alex with what they need, soon over a dozen other lesbians get in line and pay $10,000 for some samples of their own.
Instead of these lesbians getting the sample for the purpose of artificial insemination (one of them tries it and fails), they also get a sample of Jack in the sac included with that little fee. Each woman seems to anxiously anticipate the sexual act, and when the act actually goes down, they seem to enjoy it immensely.
It is hard to say if the real life lesbian community would react the way they are portrayed in this film. It doesn’t really matter though, since the film is more about social commentary and less about plausible fact. Some may see that as a defect, but that’s not where the film begins to fail.
The whistle-blowing plot line is the most interesting aspect of the film. Especially the stereotypes included with it (i.e. most of the white people in the film are evil corporate scumbags just as it is in real life situations, like with Enron and WorldCom). If the film just focused on that scenario more while covering the subject matter that it does (Watergate, George W. Bush, homosexuality, homophobia, corporate scandal, racism, ethics, morality, and family), it would have been a much better film. Instead, other things are thrown into the mix that offers no beneficial payoff. One such instance is a when Jack has a brief encounter with one lesbian’s gangster father. The scene proves that John Turturro can execute a mean Brando impersonation, but not too much else. Even the ending is questionable. Minus the last 5 minutes of the film, it probably would have left a better impression.
“She Hate Me” isn’t as terrible as you’ve been led to believe but nor is it as good as you would want it to be. Watching it is like listening in on a heated political debate amongst five people about various issues where all of them are talking at once and no one is stopping for a breath. Even so, it is nice to see a filmmaker out there who still has something to say no matter how imperfect the statement is actually being presented.