`Trippin' ' stumbles over mixed message

Review: Sex-crazed film tries to preach that education is all-important, but can't keep its eyes on the books.

May 12, 1999|By Lawrence Van Gelder | Lawrence Van Gelder,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Wrapped like candy in a sure-fire come-on of bouncing bosoms and firm young female bodies, "Trippin'" is a sermon aimed primarily at teen-age black male high school students.

The message: Get real. Get a diploma. Try to go to college.

And the payoff for this effort?

Why, you get to have all the sex you want with the prom queen.

"Trippin' " is a juvenile comedy with its heart in the right place and its airy head incapable of applying logic to its script.

Directed by David Raynr and written by Gary Hardwick, "Trippin'" tells the story of Greg Reed (Deon Richmond), a high school senior who gives the film its title by spending most of his time daydreaming, particularly about sex.

For those who focus unwaveringly on this latter-day clone of Walter Mitty, the point of "Trippin'" is clear. Education is essential to success.

But "Trippin'," pandering to audience and auditors, lacks the courage to pursue its logic to the bleak underside of its sermon. So Greg's two worthless best friends, who never crack a book, are rewarded, too.

At the outset of the film, Greg's family, which includes his hard-working father, mother, younger brother and grandfather, are concerned that he shows little inclination to buckle down to his studies and face life.

But Greg, who loafs his way through an after-school job in a local rib joint, is more concerned with the impending senior prom and the seemingly unattainable Cinny Hawkins (Maia Campbell), who just happens to be the most intelligent, most beautiful girl in the school -- and, what's more, already has a boyfriend. It is only when Greg decides that the route to Cinny's body runs through textbooks that he begins to apply himself to his studies and the possibility of higher education.

The cast, including Michael Warren as Shapic, a teacher who tries to talk sense to his students, is appealing. But the message is mixed.


Starring Deon Richmond, Donald Adeosun Faison, Maia Campbell, Stoney Jackson and Guy Torry

Released by Rogue Pictures

Rated: R (sexual situations, violence, language)

Running time: 100 minutes

Sun score: ** Pub Date: 5/12/99

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