Same Kind of Different As Me is a new well-intentioned, big-hearted movie that is sometimes bafflingly oblivious to its presentation and sometimes stultifying dull and plodding to boot.
Based on a true story and apparently a true movement and seminars, the film is about a stupidy rich couple who, after he (Greg Kinnear) is caught cheating on her (Renee Zelwegger) decide to spend time at a soup kitchen / mission to feed the poor. Kinnear has no interest in this but his wife uses his philandering as an excuse to force him to be kind to the less fortunate. Soon a crazy violent older homeless black man (Djimon Hounsou) named Suicide (real name: Denver) catches their eye and they do everything they can to help him.
The setup for this is poorly written and plodding but I was kind of fascinated to see where it would (slowly) go (I hadn’t seen a trailer). When they bring in the crazy, crusty southern black dude, it started to feel a little icky… the iconography of the White Saviors helping the poor downtrodden black man is really strong. What they are doing is fantastic… the way it looks on screen is, as the kids say, problematic.
It doesn’t help that Djimon Hounsou (a good actor) plays his old southern man like he was a particularly crazy Uncle Remus. It also doesn’t help that he seems like he’s time-traveled from the 1800s the way he talks about workin’ the plantation and playin’ with the boss’ white boy when he was young (until the KKK shows up). The
Not that the movie ever feels like it MEANS anything negative. It totally and completely has its heart in the right place. This isn’t my joke, but a reviewer said that this movie feels like “some of its best friends are black”. I get what he meant. I probably wouldn’t recommend seeing this at the theaters, but if you want a decent movie with a good message about helping those less fortunate, it’s not a bad movie to check out.