Back on the Strip marks Chris Spencer’s feature film directorial debut and brings together Spence Moore II, Tiffany Haddish, Wesley Snipes, JB Smoove, Bill Bellamy, Gary Owen, Faizon Love and more, in a light-hearted comedy that combines magic, romance, and a dash of an unexpected career choice.
At its core, the film centers on Merlin (portrayed by Moore II) pursuing his dream of becoming a magician. In an era where representation matters, the movie’s focus on his magical aspirations, backed by family support, is both unique and refreshing. The story also weaves a love narrative that’s not the norm as its never been hidden just not fully pursued…until its too late, in a sense.
After a string of failures in both life and magic, Merlin takes a leap of faith to Las Vegas. However plot twist as he transitions from a magician to a stripper, leading to comedic situations that require firsthand observation. Especially on how this transition came about.
Amid his new career trajectory, Merlin finds guidance from Wesley Snipes, who rallies a team of seasoned strippers back into the spotlight. The film deftly balances humor and nostalgia as these experienced entertainers reclaim their limelight, empowering our protagonist with renewed confidence and revitalizing a rundown hotel along the way. This subplot, coupled with the hotel’s revival, enriches the storyline, even though it occasionally muddles the film’s overall appeal.
Running in parallel, two narratives thread seamlessly: Merlin’s quest to win over a potential love interest he risks losing, and his unexpected immersion into the world of stripping. The former narrative stands out for its refreshing and nuanced take on romance, spotlighting a supportive partner who continues to cherish and nurture their connection. Meanwhile, the latter storyline thrives on the chemistry among the aging strippers,
As the story unfolds, Smoove, Bellamy, Owen, and Love’s comedic timing infuse life into the film. Their authenticity to their characters and their perspective storylines allow the film to go from a table read-like experience to a dynamic and engaging movie. The film may start a bit slow but it definitely picks up And Wesley Snipes’ presences and performance in the film shines in every scene he’s in.
Back on the Strip is not without its imperfections—most notably, the underdeveloped magician storyline and the excess of unnecessary subplots. However, it successfully delivers on its promise of entertainment, highlighting the influence of seasoned comedians in shaping a film’s comedic value.
And addressing an elephant in my movie room, Tiffany Haddish’s character throughout the film is slightly overshadowed by her past year’s circumstances. The film kicks off with her commentary on high-school-aged kids’ sexual experiences (or lack there of), and the recurring innuendos about her son’s sex life were definitely off-putting.
Overall Back on the Strip garners a respectable five out of ten rating. Its lighthearted nature and genuine comedic moments make it a worthy watch for fans of the legendary comedians and actors and those seeking a simple, light-hearted comedy.
Check out the trailer below. Support it in theaters now and let us know your thoughts below.
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