Owen Gleiberman
September 27, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Livin' Large!

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
96 minutes
performer
Lisa Arrindell, Michael Schultz, T.C. Carson, Loretta Devine, Julia Campbell
director
Michael Schultz
distributor
Samuel Goldwyn Films
genre
Comedy, Drama

We gave it an D+

Livin’ Large!, a satirical racial farce starts off with a bang. Dexter Jackson (T.C. Carson), a young upstart from inner-city Atlanta, dreams of becoming a TV newsman. Then he gets his chance. A sniper takes over a building, and when the on-scene reporter is shot and killed, Dexter commandeers a news camera and saunters past SWAT team members to land an interview with the sniper. The joke is that Dexter, with his homeboy’s bravado, is the only one who isn’t scared. This sequence has a free-spirited anarchic zap that recalls Brian De Palma’s early comedies. When Dexter is offered a job as full-time reporter, the film promises a mad clash of cultures.

Instead, it collapses. Dexter is given diction lessons and a conservative, news-at-11 hairdo, and he starts doing on-the-spot exposes of how bad life in the ghetto is. The idea is that he has to turn ”white” to be successful. There may be truth in this premise, but as satire it’s a great big downer. Dexter quickly loses the hustler’s aggressiveness that made us like him in the first place, and the movie turns didactic and nonsensical. By the time Dexter, as a publicity ploy, is forced to marry the station’s white bimbo weatherwoman live and on camera, Livin’ Large! has become less a critique of racial hysteria than a symptom of it. D+

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