Somebodies

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“Somebodies” may set the land speed record for going downhill fast. I laughed quite a bit in the first 20 minutes. And then I sat in mystified silence for most of the rest of the film, wondering what had happened to the promising movie I’d been watching.

This is the work of single-named writer/director/actor Hadjii, who wanted to make a movie about African-American men who aren’t gangsters, rappers, athletes or criminals, but just ordinary men. He has accomplished that, I suppose, but not much else.

Hadjii plays Scottie, a Georgia college student who, with his passel of like-minded roommates, spends his time chasing girls, drinking beer, smoking pot and getting into mischief — more or less typical university behavior.

But Scottie drags himself to church on Sundays, too, often half-asleep but still making the effort. The fiery preacher, Rev. Hill (Tyler Craig) — one of the few consistently funny characters in the film — speaks in what you might call random plurals: “I knows somebodies who can make all things possibles!” He keeps Scottie alert to the fact that he must figure out who he is and what he’s going to do with his life.

The film progresses more or less plot-free, episodically depicting Scottie and his friends on their quest for fulfillment. Scottie’s cousin Janoah (Irone Singleton) is just out of prison and may be a bad influence. Scottie starts dating a woman named Diva (Kaira Whitehead), a freaky gal who becomes born again and wants to be celibate until marriage. Scottie’s eccentric family members offers advice and commentary about race and gender issues, most of which is sub-“Barbershop” and sub-“Diary of a Man Black Woman” in terms of humor and relevance. Heck, it’s even sub-“Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.”

There are several lengthy scenes that are utterly pointless. They don’t advance the story, which means they were included because Hadjii thought they were funny. BUT THEY’RE NOT FUNNY, EITHER. They’re woeful, amateurish skits centered on lame premises, like Scottie’s buddy getting a job watching surveillance cameras at an apartment building and using his omniscience to scare elevator passengers.

The irony is that while Scottie’s big goal is to get his life in order, the film never lets him do it. He’s no different at the end of the film from the way he was at the beginning. And yet the movie seems satisfied with itself, like it has successfully shown a young man’s journey from Point A to Point B, despite the fact that there is no Point B. This might make a good rough draft for a screenplay, but it needs a lot more work before it’s fit for the silver screen.

D+ (1 hr., 29 min.; Not Rated, probably R for a lot of harsh profanity, some sexual dialogue.)