Neo Ned (Van Fischer, 2005)
A fun if forgettable little film that is saved from Lifetime Original Moviedom solely by well-above-average performances by the two leads, The Hurt Locker‘s Jeremy Renner and 10 Things I Hate About You‘s Gabrielle Union. Renner plays the title character, a goofy, happy-go-lucky neo-Nazi (yeah, I was wondering about that too) at the opening of the film who is forced to question his beliefs when he finds himself falling for African-American hearttthrob Union. Despite her better judgment, she returns his affection, and the two of them set out to see if they can make a life for themselves despite their obvious fractured beginnings. It is very rare to see white power played for laughs, and any director who’s going to attempt it has to be prepared to walk a very fine line; I get the feeling that’s one of the reasons why this movie never went much of anywhere, but it seemed to me Van Fischer (Blink of an Eye) did a pretty good job with that aspect of the film, using the comedy aspects of it to keep the movie light while it strayed into some very dark places. It lacks subtlety in a lot of areas, and it pays lip service to American History X a time or two without ever approaching the depth or gravity of that one. Still, as a lightweight and surprisingly funny film about the redemption of a white-power skinhead, well, it would be pretty hard to do better, if only because it has been so rarely done before. ***
Interview with Renner and Union about the film.