Would I watch Shaft again? Yes! Why? Because it’s fun! While I appreciate movies with depth and meaning, I can always make room for movies that are just looking to entertain its viewers. And while it’s not perfect, that’s exactly what this sequel that I didn’t know I wanted does.
The next chapter of Shaft introduces us to JJ, aka John Shaft Jr. (Jessie T. Usher) a recent MIT grad and data analyst working for the FBI. He’s happy with his new gig, but his chance to celebrate is cut short with the untimely death of his best friend. The death is believed to be from a drug overdose, but JJ doesn’t think so. With no one else to turn to for help, he calls on John Shaft (Samuel L. Jackson), the father he hasn’t had any contact with since childhood to figure out what really happened.
I knew Shaft would some comedy, but I didn’t anticipate the movie relying on it as much as they did. Like most movies like this, I figured there would be some attempts to make you laugh, but I thought they would rely on the action more than anything. Instead of doing that, they decided to key in on the jokes over everything else.
Almost every joke in this movie is crude and vulgar. This has been happening in film for quite some time now, but rarely is any of it actually funny. That’s mostly because these types of jokes are usually just meant to be offensive and dirty (Example: almost every Seth Rogan/McFarlane movie ever). However, Shaft is different in that the comedy here actually fits in a plethora of ways.
The reason why Shaft achieves success with this brand of comedy comes down to it all actually making sense within the context of the film and the individual scenes that they’re usually placed in. Even though a small amount of them don’t land, the vast majority fit within everything we get. Not only that, but they also connect to the characters who are telling them and the characters who are the targets of them.
This is a level of detail we hardly see anymore in adult-oriented comedies. In that sense, this is kind of a “throwback” as it reminds me of the kinds of jokes we used to get during a time when comedy was considered more of a craft than it is these days. To me, this was quite a welcome surprise as I personally always hope that filmmakers really do their best to include this amount of effort when trying to get us to laugh.
As much as I enjoyed the jokes that are included, I will admit this probably isn’t the movie for those who lean heavily on the side of the politically correct. There are plenty of jokes here that some will definitely see as “over the edge.” For them, this might not be something they would enjoy all that much since it could be considered the most insensitive movie of the year. For the rest of us, we’ll realize that they’re just jokes that play on the characters more than anything.
Since the comedy drives the movie, the action and the investigation are playing far behind it in throughout the bulk of the movie’s runtime. In fact, there may be periods where you forget there’s an investigation going on. There are even a few instances where that stuff pops up seemingly from nowhere as it kind of brings you back down from simply watching the characters being put in amusing positions.
The only thing that’s close to the comedy as far as importance, is the relationship between father and son. Of course, their relationship predictable plays a part in pretty much everything we see throughout Shaft. Since it’s so heavily relied on, it’s good that the dynamic between the two protagonist works well. You can believe the relationship they have and that makes everything else more convincing and interesting.
Stemming from the relationship between Shaft and his son, there’s an “old school” vs “new school” dynamic that’s fluid and present through it all. Their interactions and their attempts to work with one another highlight this contrast. It should go without me saying it, but this is also where a large chunk of the comedy comes from.
Although I didn’t realize they were going to feature the comedy as much as they do, I came out realizing that this was the correct choice. Being too serious or too action heavy could have potentially taken that away or reduced its impact at the very least. Handling it the way they do makes for a faster movie containing more upbeat moments in a world that’s noticeably dangerous for these guys.
Ultimately, Shaft is much more fun than I thought it was going to be. I’m glad I took the chance to watch it, but I’m also glad these guys put the necessary effort into it to make it as satisfying as it is. For people who are cool with their entertainment being delivered in this fashion, you won’t regret watching this. It’s here to give you a good time, and that’s exactly what you’ll get if and when you choose to see it.
Director: Tim Story
Samuel L. Jackson
Jessie T. Usher
Cliff “Method Man” Smith
Film Length: 111 minutes
Release Date: June 14th, 2019
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10