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The American Society of Magical Negroes                            review by Bobby Blakey

Every so often a film comes along that offers up a chance for some great clever satire and messages through some laughs that will no doubt end up controversial from those that may or may not get it. Right out the gate the latest films title alone has already sparked controversy called The American Society of Magical Negroes stars Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Drew Tarver, Michaela Watkins, Aisha Hinds, Tim Baltz with Rupert Friend and Nicole Byer from writer/director Kobi Libii. Could this film have something important to say or will it get lost in fantasy?

The American Society of Magical Negroes follows a young man, Aren, who is recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people’s lives easier. 

From the first trailer of this film, I knew this one had the potential to be an important film as well as being one that would no doubt bring controversy. Right out the gate people started complaining without seeing the film first as expected and then it kind of came and went without much faire. It’s a shame as the film has a deeper message although sometimes lost in some of the typical tropes of its execution. The blend of romantic comedy and cultural issues is great, but the romance side is more by the numbers and in my opinion weakens some of the more important aspects of the film’s message.

The story is simple on its surface and uses a Harry Potter-esque world to create something new to tackle this sadly to current topic of black people and how they navigate society. On one side it is hilarious in its explanation and execution because it’s so spot on, but also terribly sad that it is so accurate. The lighter tone it takes to take on this deep subject matter allows the viewer to keep an open

mind as they watch, but also leaves an opening to ignore the important message which I think is a shame. I was hoping it would punch you more in the gut with the point than it does but make no mistake it still brings the message to the forefront.

There is a lot here to unpack in the way of the cultural message it is bringing to the story. There are elements that will no doubt make people feel uncomfortable and it should. To be fair if you are feeling this way then the truth of the film is just further cemented. I love that it is taking on this idea in this unique way, but I hate that even as a magical comedy it is all too relevant to today’s world. If you think the entire thing is pure fantasy, then you are likely part of the problem.

Everyone gives a great performance with Justice Smith carrying the weight of it all. He has a short but great monologue at the end that slaps the point home in a empowering way while not taking away from the story they bring. I was a bit let down there wasn’t a deeper lean into the magical world they created, but the end opening up the doors to other things made it bigger and open to other possibilities should they be given the chance.

In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including commentary and featurettes taking you behind bringing this film to life. You can check out the film available now on digital, Blu-ray, DVD and streaming on Peacock from Universal Home Entertainment.

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