Homie SpumoniDirected by Mike Cerrone (co-writer of the Jim Carrey vehicle Me, Myself & Irene) comes the new moderately humorous, often disappointing, race-comedy Homie Spumoni. As a first-time director Cerrone has penned a new comedy based around the idea that (chuckle-chuckle) a young black man thinks he’s (gasp) Italian! That is until his real parents show up to claim him as their own and turn his life upside down. Apparently, as young Renato is taught how to “be black” by his long-lost brother, hilarity should ensue. Unfortunately, not much does.

The confused Renato (aka Leroy), played with wide-eyed enthusiasm and naivete by Scrubs star Donald Faison, is perfectly content with his current situation as a young Italian-American immigrant. He works in his dad’s deli, volunteers at the local animal shelter, hangs out with his pal Buddy (Joey Fatone of N’Sync), and just started dating Ally, the girl of his dreams (Jamie-Lynn Sigler of The Sopranos). But when two strangers show up (Whoopi Goldberg and Chappelle’s Show regular Paul Mooney) claiming to be his parents, everything is turned around.

While the concept isn’t exactly the freshest of material, at first there seems to be a chance for the film to go somewhere. After a slightly offbeat beginning set in Italy, complete with English subtitles, viewers may not be preparing themselves for the best movie of the year, but they’re at least expecting something new and interesting. Once the story kicks in, though, such preparation proves pointless. Reusing jokes that have been showcased in a hundred other places (remember the popcorn box move from Chappelle’s Show?), Homie Spumoni opts to take the low road every time in the search for comic material.

The result is a poorly-paced dud of a comedy alternating between overly simplistic middle-school drama (should Renato sing at the talent show with his girlfriend Ally?) and unneccesary, unfunny crassness (Renato has an unpleasant surprise for a girl who dances with him), Homie Spumoni seems as confused as its lead character. Whoopi Goldberg and Paul Mooney, though both funny in their own elements, fall pathetically flat with such a lackluster script. At times it feels as if the actors are reaching for the next level and then realizing that there’s too much holding them back to attempt it.

After the popularity of Chappelle’s Show, it’s clear that there’s a large audience for race-based humor. What writer/director Mike Cerrone failed to realize before attempting Homie Spumoni, though, is that race-based humor still needs to be humorous. Relying on awkward sight gags and a paper-thin plot about love and understanding doesn’t do the film any favors. Those seeking an “irreverent” good time would do better to look elsewhere. Try Italy.

Zach’s Rating: D-
Chappelle’s Show fan’s rating: B-
The Jerk fan’s rating: C-

To purchase Homie Spumoni on DVD, visit Amazon

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