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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Hook'd Up (1998)

"Good food, good fun, good sex. What more could a man ask for?"
- Chantal (Sheryl Lee Ralph)

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: July 29, 2003

Stars: Malik Yoba, Stacey Dash, Rhonda Ross Kendrick, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jim Gaffigan
Other Stars: Monteria Ivey, Rosalyn Coleman, Delilah Cotto, Linda Larkin, Michelle Hurd, Angela Bullock
Director: Mike Sargent

MPAA Rating: R for (language and some sexual content)
Run Time: 01h:31m:37s
Release Date: July 22, 2003
UPC: 012236140245
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+BB D-

DVD Review

Ah, the life of a young male writer. Juggling women, endless parties, sleeping 'til noon, shooting the breeze in sidewalk cafés, and—when the social schedule permits—making a perfunctory stop at the computer to string a few words together. (Wait a second—my life was never like that!) Welcome to the blissfully irresponsible world of Keith Parker (Malik Yoba), until missed deadlines and shoddy articles force his editor at The Village Voice to fire him. Of course, nothing inspires a writer like rejection—except maybe looming credit card bills and rent payments—so Keith racks his brain for a unique, hot button topic to pitch to his editor so he can clear his debts and ultimately reclaim his cushy professional gig.

Keith's friend Mickey (Monteria Ivey) suggests he write about the personals, those popular lonely-hearts classified ads in all the major newspapers. After some initial scoffing, Keith finds an appealing angle—place his own ad, then date 30 women in 30 days and write about his experiences. Mmmmm, and maybe the "research" will yield some bootylicious results.

Hook'd Up (originally released as Personals) follows Keith's month-long odyssey into the often frightening (at least to this married reviewer) singles subculture. Writer-director Mike Sargent's breezy but shallow examination of black heterosexual relationships is hardly illuminating. In fact, the episodic movie more closely resembles an extended sitcom on the WB. Hook'd Up's simplistic message and pedestrian presentation don't diminish its mild entertainment value, but rather anchor it in mediocrity.

Hook'd Up should be edgy and sassy, offering a fresh perspective on the sparring sexes, but instead Keith's dating launches a parade of female stereotypes. Leading off is Loquita (Rosalyn Coleman), a loquacious streetwise dame lacking breeding and tact. Batting second is Chantal (Sheryl Lee Ralph), a chic career woman who seeks a man's seed, not his soul, so she can reproduce. Hitting clean-up: Veronica (Delilah Cotto), a clingy Spanish spitfire. And let's not forget Melanie (Linda Larkin), a white, uptight Star Trek geek; Lorraine (Michelle Hurd), a hoity-toity black chick who only dates white men; or Leatha (Angela Bullock), a militant pro-black activist. To top it all off, how about Amber (Kevin Aviance), a slinky black transsexual? While wading through this estrogen minefield, Keith receives cryptic phone messages from an intelligent mystery woman who just might turn out to be his needle in the urban haystack.

Yoba makes Keith a charming Don Juan, exhibiting a natural air of libido-charged fascination, frustration and exasperation when dealing with the opposite sex. His performance holds Hook'd Up together and helps buffer the one-dimensional female characters. Sargent tries to lace the film with a Spike Lee feel, but his hollow script shrinks from any gender issues that could spark spirited debate. Keith's payoff epiphany, "The more you have, the less it means," is such a wimpy platitude it nullifies the film's few insightful moments, and makes viewers of Hook'd Up feel dumbed down.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The print itself displays occasional flecks and debris, but is generally clean and vibrant, with solid flesh tones and vivid color. A few soft focus moments occur and background detail can be fuzzy, but on the whole the transfer doesn't disappoint.

What does disappoint is Artisan's unwillingness to honor the filmmaker's vision. The company has released Hook'd Up in a full screen version only, and while care has gone into the cropping, it doesn't disguise the fact that parts of the image are missing. C'mon Artisan, those of us with widescreen TVs are begging you to respect your catalogue of films and give us original aspect ratios. Sure, Hook'd Up is far from a blockbuster title, but if you're going to take the trouble to release it all, go the extra mile and release it properly. If a consumer plunks down honest money for a rental or purchase, they deserve to see the film as it was originally envisioned and produced.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The DD 2.0 soundtrack plays nicely across the front speakers, with occasional directionality adding interest. Dialogue is clear, but at times the funky R&B music track overwhelms it.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Absolutely zilch.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Hook'd Up passes time painlessly and makes some cogent points about dating and relationships. The script tries hard, but only provokes an occasional knowing smile instead of the frequent belly laughs to which it aspires. The cardboard characters keep the story superficial and the barebones disc (no extras, full screen only) keeps the DVD from rising above a ho-hum rental.


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