Lisa Schwarzbaum
April 12, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
genre
Hip-Hop/Rap, Soundtracks

We gave it a F

Let’s assume, for the sake of this review, that you’re a Martin Lawrence fan. You first got hip to his energetically vulgar humor on Russell Simmons’ HBO Def Comedy Jam; you enjoy his Fox sitcom, Martin; and you split a gut last spring at his action-comedy hit, Bad Boys. In short, let’s assume that you’re the prime sucker the movie marketers hope will run right out to A Thin Line Between Love & Hate.

Here’s my plea: Don’t. Before you buy into this crude, foulmouthed ego trip (story by Martin Lawrence, screenplay cowritten by Martin Lawrence, starring Martin Lawrence, and directed by Martin Lawrence), please consider these alternative activities: (1) Revisit Fatal Attraction, since that’s the superior model on which this lazy story — about a woman (Lynn Whitfield) who turns murderous-crazy on a slick playboy (Martin) after he seduces her and leaves her — is based; (2) see Waiting to Exhale, since the producers of Thin Line have the chutzpah to suggest that this vulgar, misogynist ”comedy” is the ”male side of the Exhale coin”; (3) listen to the original 1971 recording of the great, bitter R&B song from which the movie steals its title, sung by the Persuaders, or the wailing 1984 remake by the Pretenders; (4) alphabetize your CD collection, write a letter to your senator, run an errand for an old person, or give your hair a deep conditioning.

The affront of Thin Line is not in the poor acting (Whitfield, the strong star of The Josephine Baker Story, is woefully unbelievable as either a siren or a psycho), not in the torrent of slangy, obscene language in which Lawrence revels (motherf—ing is a synonym for howdy to him), and not in the nonsensical plotting and amateurish direction that wouldn’t pass muster in a freshman filmmaking class. No, the affront of Thin Line is in Hollywood’s arrogant assumption that because big star Lawrence is the one mouthing off, it’s okay for him to spew rude, dumb, hostile sexual observations (still! hasn’t life gotten any sweeter for him since he first started this combative-brother act?), and that what he has to say is worth hearing.

It ain’t. Every moviegoer who buys a ticket to this kind of crap is casting a vote for more. I love a good motherf—ing sex joke as much as the next ”bitch,” but this dope isn’t funny; it’s contemptible, and we’re the ones being held in contempt.

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