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Will ‘The Cookout’ sizzle -- or fizzle? You decide

“The Cookout,” which opens Friday, stars Queen Latifah, who also served as executive producer and co-writer of the story. Yet the movie will open this week without a screening for the press, often a red flag that the studio considers the film a stinker.

The public will have to judge the ensemble comedy for itself.

Besides Latifah (“Chicago,” “Bringing Down the House”), “The Cookout” serves up Danny Glover, Tim Meadows, Ja Rule, Farrah Fawcett, Jenifer Lewis and Eve. Singer-songwriter Storm P makes his film debut as a young man who gets a $30-million contract with the New Jersey Nets.

He buys a big house in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, but his neighbors aren’t happy about it -- especially a conservative judge (Glover), his hotsy-totsy wife (Fawcett) and a wacky security guard (Latifah), ready to bust the basketball star if he breaks any of the neighborhood association’s rules.

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When he decides to invite his new neighbors and friends and family from his old ‘hood, the young man’s best-laid plans turn to mayhem.

“The Cookout” marks the feature directorial debut of Lance Rivera, who has been a force in the hip-hop industry for more than a decade, first financing the musical career of Biggie Smalls and then going into partnership with Atlantic Records in 1994 to create Undeas Recordings. Rivera began directing with Notorious B.I.G.'s music video “Juicy.”

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-- Susan King


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