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All Things Fall Apart DVD Review

All Things Fall Apart (2012) DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com All Things Fall Apart

Original Air Date: December 3, 2011 / Running Time: 110 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Director: Mario Van Peebles / Writers: Curtis Jackson (story & screenplay), Brian Miller (screenplay)

Cast: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (Deon Barnes), Ray Liotta (Doctor Brintall), Mario Van Peebles (Eric), Lynne Whitfield (Bee Barnes), Cedric Sanders (Sean Barnes), Tracey Heggins (Sharon), Mike P (June), Steve Eastin (Coach Harper), Chanel Farrell (Geology Tutor), Ambyr Childers (Sherry), Michael Travis (Walter), Josh Carrizales (Carlos), Shelton Rodriguez (Young Sean), Henry Ramsey (Young Deon), Alice Kennedy (Doctor Lee), Armon York Williams (Patron), Greg Rogers (Dealership Owner)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; Extra Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Home Video Release Date: February 14, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $27.97
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($29.97 SRP) and Instant Video

Buy All Things Fall Apart from Amazon.com: DVD • Blu-ray • Instant Video

Back in 2010, photos of an emaciated 50 Cent surfaced online and shocked people. No, the rapper/actor, who increasingly drops his stage name into his less memorable birth name Curtis Jackson, was not sick or dying. He had lost over 50 pounds for a movie role. That in itself still surprised because until then, 50 Cent's kind of cinema was crime action with Val Kilmer. Severe, health-threatening weight loss simply isn't done for that sort of thing.
Clearly, Fiddy's transformation was a play for credibility, an effort to be taken seriously as an actor as films like Get Rich or Die Tryin', Twelve, 13, Gun, and even the Robert De Niro/Al Pacino vehicle Righteous Kill had not allowed him to be.

Obviously, things did not go as planned because it is the height of the Oscar season and the movie for which Mr. Jackson shed all those pounds, All Things Fall Apart, has just been released to video following a December premiere on BET.

That might be sad, if the prestige ploy was not fictional and so remarkably transparent. Jackson came up with the story and co-wrote the screenplay with his Caught in the Crossfire (missed that one, did you?) scribe/director Brian Miller. In a questionable model that would lend nicely to a business student's senior thesis, 50 Cent's Cheetah Vision production company somehow raised $200 million for a 10-picture deal. An estimated $7 M of that went to this and attracted some talent in the way of co-star Ray Liotta and director/co-star Mario Van Peebles. How that money is to be recouped, I have no idea, because over at Amazon, the DVD is already selling at bargain prices and not even cracking the top 1,000 sellers.

Life is good for dreadlocked college football star Deon Barnes (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson). But all things fall apart and 50 pounds, chemotherapy, and a scholarship rescindment later, Deon (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) isn't smiling anymore.

Though it's billed as a football movie, All Things ceases to be that about thirty minutes in. Jackson plays Deon Barnes, a star running back at a Division I NCAA college (shockingly, no real university would lend their name to this, but the team's nickname is the Lakers). Let us not overlook the ludicrousness of that. Jackson was about to turn 35 when he was filming this. When Mark Wahlberg was 34, he played the oldest rookie in NFL history in Invincible.

Dreadlocked Deon seems to have it all. His classmates look up to him and a smile gets him any coed's phone number and more. It's not a question of if he'll go pro, but how high in the first round he'll be drafted. Then, one day, he feels weak and passes out. A trip to the hospital reveals he has a cancerous tumor in his chest, a centimeter away from his heart. Dr. Brintall (Ray Liotta) remains optimistic, but the championship game is out of the question and Deon will need to undergo months of chemotherapy and radiation.

We jump ahead months to find Deon down to skin and bones. Bald, frail, and free of his ego, he is virtually unrecognizable. The camera lingers on the weight loss, exploiting the power that 50 Cent's commitment to the project gives it.

Like the young college student that he is, Deon needs a comforting word from his mother (Lynn Whitfield) to ease his fear of needles. Younger brother Sean (Cedric Sanders) and his friend Sharon (Tracey Heggins) form an ambiguous love triangle with Deon.

Discharged from the hospital, Deon finds life far from the picnic it had been. Still haunted by his own unrealized gridiron dreams, ruthless stepfather Eric (Mario Van Peebles) somehow still thinks the NFL is in Deon's future. When he realizes it's not, he leaves Deon's mother (Lynn Whitfield), who is already juggling bartending and catering jobs to help pay the steep medical bills that have piled up.

Deon's college has rescinded his athletic scholarship and he is still two years away from graduating (which puts him around age 20?!). Deon's search for employment is bleak in this economy. He leaves the minimum wage janitorial position the school offered him and looks elsewhere, only to continue being turned away. Girls don't even recognize him, let alone give him the time of day. Deon has a falling out with his younger brother Sean (Cedric Sanders), who has lived in his shadow his whole life.
Things get so bad that Deon turns up in a cardboard box outside Eric's mechanic shop. Their "Sanford and Son" lifestyle is not to be; Deon is lousy at things like holding flashlights steady and excellent at unintentionally dropping things. The assistant position he had counted on his old coach (Steve Eastin) getting him falls through, with the university declaring him an insurance risk. Indeed, all things fall apart.

You have to admire 50 Cent's resolve to become an actor. His weight loss for this role makes it impossible to defend Chris Evans not shedding pounds for the opening act of Captain America. At the same time, you have to pity Fiddy because while money can land you opportunities and creative control and determination can transform, none of that is enough to create anything resembling art. This movie feels like 50 Cent's Simple Jack, a truly misguided and miscalculated effort to win respect and rave reviews. Playing things with unwavering seriousness only renders the remarkably unsubtle film all the more humorous. It's like the Book of Job via Cast Away, a riches-to-rags story that neither humbles nor inspires.

For all its many failings, All Things still manages to uncover some unexpected poignancy both in a heartfelt speech Ray Liotta delivers in the hospital parking lot and in an eerily heartwarming gala finale.

Doctor Brintall (Ray Liotta) hits at the heart of cancer care in this stirring impassioned speech outside his hospital. Deon (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson) is disheartened to learn that he won't be allowed to join the staff of Coach Harper (Steve Eastin).

50 Cent shows some improvement as an actor, but still has a ways to go. He's a lot more convincing as the proud big man on campus
than as the pitiful down-on-his-luck charity case he becomes. The supporting cast is often as challenged as he is. Part of that may be due to the immature, unpolished screenplay Miller and he gave them to work with. The movie seems to go out of its way to include white people and portray them in a positive light. Liotta and Eastin are believable, respectable authority figures, while Ambyr Childers is less convincing (and more token) as Whitfield's friend and fellow bartender. It seems like a concerted effort and one that most predominantly black movies do not make. Perhaps it is the business-savvy 50 Cent trying to play to a wider audience.

That does raise the question of just who this is intended for. The opening seems like 50 Cent's version of a sports movie, with prominent rap songs, prevalent profanity, poorly staged football (shot on what looks like a 20-yard field) and an unmistakable fixation with the female posterior. The medical diagnosis changes the tone of the film, putting it in the same mold as Tyler Perry's melodramatic redemption stories, minus the drag comedy. The movie seems to be sold on 50 Cent's personality, but if there is such a thing as a fan of 50 Cent the actor, it is someone who appreciates the violent urban crime dramas with poetic titles like Streets of Blood and Dead Man Running. Judging from Gun alone, I have little doubt that All Things is a clear improvement over them, but I can't imagine a fan of his previous work gravitating to it or enjoying this.

Whether or not people like it, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson the actor is here to stay, with at least another five films in his 10-picture deal yet to come. It will be interesting to see if any of them make it to American theaters, turn any apparent profit, or take strides to legitimize his evident movie star dreams. If not, Fiddy will at least have some fun times and stories from what appears to be a luxurious hobby with minimal pressures and demands.

VIDEO and AUDIO

All Things Fall Apart appears in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks quite good. The picture is clean, sharp, and vibrant. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has some odd mixing from channel to channel early on. It limits its surround usage to some prominent needle drops, going light on atmosphere and impact.

The trailer and film's billing of the actor as Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson reveals his name is no Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson-type transition. Football is emphasized on the cover art and the DVD main menu adapted from it.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

There is but one bonus feature here, a trailer for All Things Fall Apart (1:50) that runs exactly 1/60th of the film's length. While it would do its job more effectively anywhere else, it is a welcome standard inclusion from Image Entertainment.

With its lead actor's ego, ambitions, and power so plain to see, you would think there would be a piece on his incredible physical transformation or at least a typical making-of featurette. The absence of such items only reinforces this as a production made on the fringes of the movie industry.

The menu shifts cover art elements around to play football-centric clips in the sky above the stadium. The keepcase is topped by a slipcover with a sticker of smartphone code square to play the trailer.

All things fall apart for Job and for Deon Barnes (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson). Rigorous stepfather Eric (director Mario Van Peebles) boils down an assortment of ethnicities down to their essence in rare bit of well-intentioned parenting.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

While no one can question 50 Cent's commitment to All Things Fall Apart, one can easily question his belief in this flimsy vanity project and its quest for prestige. This amateurish, unsubtle melodrama may be a clear step-up from the actor's inane crime thrillers (from what little I've seen), but it's still several notches below quality filmmaking. With themes of family, redemption, and economic hardship, the movie might appeal to Tyler Perry's faithful following, but its rowdy, profanity-laced first act puts it squarely at odds with their sensibilities. And yet, they still might enjoy it more than fans of 50's music and film work and those misled to expect a football drama.

Buy All Things Fall Apart from Amazon.com: DVD / Blu-ray / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Written by, Starring, and Produced by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson: Gun
New: Real Steel • Love Story • The Big Year • Drive • The Mighty Macs • In Time
Ray Liotta: Wild Hogs • Youth in Revolt • Bee Movie • Date Night | Mario Van Peebles: Multiple Sarcasms
Lynn Whitfield: The Women (2008) • The Cheetah Girls 2 | Steve Eastin: Con Air
Football: Remember the Titans • Invincible • Varsity Blues • Air Bud: Golden Receiver • The Comebacks
Sports Dramas: The Fighter • Moneyball • Rocky • Secretariat • Miracle

All Things Fall Apart Songs List: Lloyd Banks feat. Juelz Santana - "Beamer, Benz or Bentley", Tony Yayo feat. Joe - "Curious", Governor Washington feat. Cheri Dennis - "Crazy Life", 50 Cent - "Wanksta", Hot Rod - "Dance With Me", Tony Yayo feat. 50 Cent - "Pass the Patron", Governor Washington - "Destiny", Twanιe - "Take It", "Get Dat", Twanιe - "Let Me Show You", Governor Washington - "Remarkable", Gyptian - "Hold Yuh", Musiq Soulchild - "Buddy", "The Knock Out", Cheri Dennis - "I Love You"

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Reviewed February 16, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Hannibal Pictures, Cheetah Vision Films, and Image Entertainment.
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