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Movie Review

Teen Comedy 'Trippin' ' Can't Quite Keep Things Real

May 14, 1999|GENE SEYMOUR | FOR THE TIMES

There's no sense in wishing that a movie be something it isn't. But "Trippin,' " in applying an African American spin to that stale, old subgenre of teenagers-with-overactive-imaginations, could have done something new with it by resisting the temptation to uplift its audience and using the device to pound pop cliches into the ground.

Instead, "Trippin' " settles for "chillin' " its audience, offering puffed-up platitudes to wayward teens about "focus," even as it lacks its own comic focus.

Not to say there's nothing to laugh at in this story of Greg (Deon Richmond), a high school senior who's far more concerned about whom he's taking to the prom than where he's going to college next year.

G, as his friends call him, keeps distracting himself from the urgent business of filling out applications, by daydreaming himself into various scenarios of glory. One morning may find him dreaming of being a "major playa" on an island paradise. That afternoon, he may drift off in the middle of class into a future in which he is a superstar poet. (One poem in particular, with a title that can't be repeated here, is a comic peak for the film.) Always in these dreams, there are women, women and more women, enraptured by G's awkward brashness.

There is one woman in particular who figures prominently in his dreams: bright, beautiful Cinny (Maia Campbell), who, like G, is a senior. Unlike G, she gets good grades and has a sure sense of her future. Nevertheless, G's determined to make her his prom date, even if it means fibbing about his college prospects.

As it is, "Trippin" ' is serviceable as an undemanding date movie. It's not too dissimilar from the teen movies that have proliferated this season; "Trippin' " looks a lot like an "Afterschool Special" goosed with dirty words and R-rated sex. With its energetic young cast and flashes of insolence, you wish for more coherence and less meandering in the script. You also wish it would goof on its own didactic impulses. That way, even if it didn't make sense, you wouldn't care.

* MPAA rating: R, for sexuality and language. Times guidelines: Nudity and sex scenes should keep this high school movie off limits to the junior high school set.

'Trippin' "

Deon Richmond: Greg

Maia Campbell: Cinny

October Films and Rogue Pictures presents a Beacon Communications production directed by David Raynr. Screenplay Gary Hardwick. Producers Marc Abraham and Caitlin Scanlon. Co-producer Diane Batson-Smith. Executive producer Thomas A. Bliss. Original music by Michel Colombier. Cinematography John B. Aronson. Editor Earl Watson. Production design Aaron Osborne. Art director Erin Cochran. Costumes Jennifer L. Bryant. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

In general release

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