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Screenshot 2018-08-01 17.14.47.jpg

Lee Daniels' "Shadowboxer" Is Full Of Surprises And Terrible

By Mieka Strawhorn | Film | August 1, 2018 |

By Mieka Strawhorn | Film | August 1, 2018 |


Screenshot 2018-08-01 17.14.47.jpg

Well, THAT was something. I just finished watching Shadowboxer, Lee Daniels’ 2005 directorial debut. It all started with a tweet I saw that made me sit up and give a Scooby-Doo “ruh?”.

My interest was piqued, to say the least. I sought out the trailer and learned that Shadowboxer stars Cuba Gooding Jr., Dame Helen Mirren, and problem child Stephen Dorff. Scooby “ruh?” x 3, ammiright? In case you are unaware of the great Lee Daniels’ oeuvre, he’s known for high camp/high brow fare such as Precious, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Monster’s Ball (producer) and TV’s Empire. Lee has never been the type to let himself be pigeonholed into one single genre. Why stick to one genre when you can have three?! In this case, I’d say psychosexual thriller, overwrought melodrama and slapstick comedy.

Here’s the trailer:

Yes, Cuba and Helen star as hitmen who are lovers but also mother and son? She’s sort of his stepmother. But they definitely fuck. Helen gets cancer and starts to feel some kind of way about all the killing. When they get hired to kill Stephen Dorff’s pregnant wife, she can’t pull the trigger. So Helen, Cuba, momma (played by Vanessa Ferlito), and baby all go on the lam together and make a little family of sorts. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a mob doctor and Mo’Nique plays his crackhead girlfriend. In a heart-stopping twist of fate, Mo’Nique’s character is named Precious. Let. That. Sink. In. Oh, and because why not, Macy Gray has a small role as the wife’s BFF.

The movie is bad, y’all. Like real bad. But, I still find a number of reasons to recommend it. One reason: Stephen Dorff Full Frontal. And it’s absolutely gratuitous. Also, we learned earlier that he calls his penis “Little Dicky”. So, a good third of the movie is about Dorff’s dong. Another third is about Cuba’s butt and his mommy/daddy sex issues. Cuba also wears full drag in one scene for no discernible reason. That leaves a final third to figure out the timeline because the baby has a number of birthdays and thank God; it is the only clue we have that the entire plot is not taking place in a single day.

Have I mentioned the wigs? No? On second thought, better not to say anything.

This movie is one of the films that Lee borrowed 2 million dollars from Damon Dash to make. Damon recently confronted Lee at a Diana Ross concert about the money he owed him. It was pretty amazing.


In public, while Diana is SINGING. That’s cold-blooded and I’m living for it. All this fuss over Shadowboxer? Lee himself couldn’t write this kind of drama.

Shadowboxer boasts a 18% on the Tomatometer, but I’d give it a solid 60% if only for Helen Mirren’s absolutely straight performance while getting fucked by Cuba on a picnic blanket, covered in rose petals, in the forest, while he pumps away while having a very busy flashback of his daddy beating him with a belt. I’ll say no more! You can rent Shadowboxer from YouTube for $1.99.



Mieka is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.



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