Family Album

IN CROOKLYN, A MEMORY FILM ABOUT growing up in Brooklyn in the '70s, Spike Lee abandons the Big Issues that generate his movies, and seems at a loss. Using 9-year-old Troy (the charming Zelda Harris) as his prism, Lee presents the Carmichael family, struggling to make ends meet. Father (Delroy Lindo) is a purist jazz composer who can't get work in a rock era. Mother (Alfre Woodard), a teacher, does the worrying and the screaming, riding herd on her five rowdy, TV-Obsessed kids. Intended to be a tough-love saint, she comes across as a nag. "Crooklyn" is a family affair-Lee co-wrote it with his sister Joie Susannah and brother Cinque-but the semiautobiographical script never shapes reminiscence into art. It's not the lack of story that makes it Lee's dullest movie, but its refusal to dig beneath the skin of its characters. Lee seems to confuse noise with drama: the bickering Carmichaels create quite a racket, but we're seldom moved by their plight. In his most desperate moment, Lee shoots a long sequence through a distorted lens. This is meant to show how disoriented Troy is, but most people will just think the projectionist screwed up.

Family Album | News