The American Society of Magical Negroes review, not quite magical

An-Li Bogan in The American Society of Magical Negroes

The American Society of Magical Negroes is a satire meant to demonstrate how ridiculous white people are about race. It was trying to do something comparable to Dear White People, but it didn’t quite work. Maybe that comparison is unfair because Dear White People had a movie and several seasons of TV to make its point. The American Society of Magical Negroes just has a movie, and the movie is scattered.

The American Society of Magical Negroes begins with Aren (Justice Smith) getting recruited by Roger (David Alan Grier) to join the secret society. Roger takes Aren straight into a training session with Gabbard (Aisha Hinds).

Gabbard explains how to use magic to keep white people feeling comfortable around Black people so they don’t kill the Black people. Aren has been trying to please white people and stay safe his entire life, so he would seem like a good recruit for the society. But he’s young and doesn’t always play by the old rules.

David Alan Grier, Aisha Hinds, and Justice Smith in The American Society of Magical Negroes

When he’s sent out on his first job to make an incompetent white guy feel good about his job there are complications. He doesn’t do things the right way. A big part of the reason he isn’t following the rules is Lizzie (An-Li Bogan). They were flirting in a coffee shop before he got to his job. And there she was, working there, too. She was the one with the talent, but the white guy was taking the credit.

Somewhere along in the second act, the satire turned into a romcom and the last part of the film lost the plot. There’s nothing wrong with people falling in love, but it weakened the premise and focus on ridiculing racism in America.

The film wasn’t a total disaster. The cast was good. But it didn’t deliver what it should have.

The film is streaming on Peacock, if you’d like to take a look. If you do, please share your thoughts about it in the comments.

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