Los Angeles Times

In the Mix

"In the Mix" is really just a delivery vehicle for two things: A peppy soundtrack album, and the hip-hop star Usher, who has been trying to break big as a movie star for quite a while now.

This one might do it. It packages Usher as Darrell, a wisecracking but essentially decent young man who dreams of running his own record label, but can't catch a break; fortunately, his dead dad used to tend bar for a mobster (Chazz Palminteri), whose life Darrell manages to save during a party for the mobster's daughter Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui).

Although it seems fairly obvious that Dad was the target, Darrell winds up getting hired as Dolly's bodyguard, which allows Usher to doff his street fashions for a tailored suit. And, of course, there's the love connection that inevitably forms between Darrell and Dolly, once each realizes that the other isn't so stuck up and/or dense after all.

Now, Usher is a charming guy, and he manages to put just enough of a wink into his performance that says he knows how dumb this all is; it lets him float above the rank stupidity of a lot of what the movie's four writers have mistaken for humor. (They think they're spoofing hideworn goombah and B-boy cliches, even as they reinforce most of them.)

But Usher's presence can't change the fact that "In the Mix" is, well, dumb. Director Ron Underwood gives the whole thing an attractive sheen, like a new car, but he can't steer around the project's essential pre-fab nature: You keep expecting to see the Olsen twins rounding a corner, being chased by Eugene Levy. And that's not something Usher needs around his neck, right now.

Lionsgate's enhanced-widescreen DVD was originally announced as packing a whole bunch of supplements, including an audio commentary, an assortment of production featurettes and a profile of Usher; what made it onto the final product is considerably thinner.

There's "25 Days and Not a Minute More," a five-minute bit in which cast and crew marvel at the movie's compressed shooting schedule, and three deleted scenes -- one of which is really more of an outtake reel. Maybe the schedule didn't allow for any more stuff ... or maybe the studio realized it just wasn't worth the effort.

STUDIO: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2006
RATING: PG-13
PRICE: $28.95
TIME: 95 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: Spanish subtitles; deleted scenes; production featurette.

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