The creator of this film was on "Real Time with Bill Maher," and after his interview I immediately wanted to see this film. I hadn't heard much about it--either I missed out on promos or it wasn't advertised very well, and I'm betting on the latter. With major players like Danny Glover, Nia Long and Roger Guenveur Smith, I knew there'd be some great acting. Evan Ross has done an excellent job in every film he's been in no matter how dramatically different they are, from "90210" to "ATL" to this film.
The movie is based on a young boy (Tariq) who is being raised to be Muslim, but he's having such a hard time adjusting because kids (one in particular) are constantly teasing him about being different. The film sorta reminded me of a little boy I went to elementary school with who was a Jehovah's Witness. Clearly that's a different religion, but I immediately recognized the outsider treatment he got for being different. However, instead of just inquisitive children and the occasional mean-spirited joke, his father (Hassan played by Roger Guenveur Smith) was determined to have a Muslim son and sent him to a program to learn more about Muslim culture. I cringed a little bit because I was hoping "Mooz-Lum" wouldn't remind me of "Sleepers." As much as I loved the latter film, I cringed during the horrible memories those kids had. Thankfully this film didn't go that far, but the treatment he got in that school was horrendous.
By the time he'd returned home, he was a different person and wanted nothing to do with being a Muslim. Problem is his father made sure he had a Muslim roommate in college, his Muslim sister was still around wondering why her brother was always mad and one particular female wondered why he seemed so different than everybody else. And then September 11th hit and everything went even crazier.
Cons: While I certainly enjoyed the main family and the actors/actresses who played their roles, too many characters were lacking. The college fight scene was faker than the fight in the film "Daddy's Little Girls." I wish they would've played that up a little bit more and made us feel like it was really happening. Instead of feeling tense, I was disappointed that the instigators sounded like they were reading from a piece of paper. Dorian Missick (who played Professor Jamal) was really good, too, but I couldn't get into Tariq's neighbor's character. Something was a little too square about his character; I didn't really buy into Cedric (played by Vladimi Versailles) being an antagonist or running with the cool crowd.
Pros: The women in the film were really strong, and I didn't know any of them outside of Nia Long. From Tariq's sister Taqua (played by Kimberley Drummond) to the little girl at school Erin (played by Molly Paddock), I thought they did a great job for newbies (on the film scene anyway). But back to Evan Ross, he did such a good job at looking uncomfortable around women that he actually made me uncomfortable watching him. Instead of smiling about his alone time with Ayanna (played by Maryam Basir), I cringed and wanted it to be over quickly--that's a good thing. That means he did a convincing job.
I highly recommend this film. I think it would do some good for recreational movie watching as well as in the classroom.