Chocolate City starring Tyson Beckford (Zoolander), DeRay Davis (21 Jump Street), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill: Vol 1; Vol 2), and Robert Ri’chard (Coach Carter), unapologetically rips off Channing Tatum’s (21 Jump Street) widely popular Magic Mike.

Chocolate City DVD Review

The story follows Michael McCoy (Ri’chard) as he struggles watching his mother Katherine (Fox) take care of the household on limited income while his brother Chris (Davis) contributes nothing but a fresh haircut to the family’s expenses. Michael doesn’t struggle for long though as we are soon introduced to the world of male extoic dancing.

In a rather weird bathroom scene Michael is handed a business card by Princeton, played by Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight), the owner of the club and either senses Michael money situation from his closed tab.

After getting a measly check from the fast food restaurant he works at Michael is probed by Chris to call the number on the business card given to him in that weird bathroom scene. Michael calls and is immediately asked to come to the club that night. The two go only to find out it’s amaetur night and Michael is expected to dance. Hesitant, Michael listens to his brother again and fins himself up on stage as “Sexy Chocolate.” Right away we see that Michael enjoys his time on stage plus he just made a enough money to pay off the light company who was threatening to cut his mother’s service for failure to pay.

Like anything surrounding easy money comes the good things and the bad things. Even though Michael is clearly enjoying his new gig his mother Katherine is horrified in suspecting that her “good” son might be selling drugs to help her take care of the house. While he is being mum with his mother, Michael is also being secretive about his new income to his new love interest and it isn’t before long that she finds out in the only way fitting for this type of story. But Michael shows no signs of quitting even after “Rude Boy,” the clubs headlining dancer played by the alluring Tyson Beckford, threatens him to leave and never come back.

From the beginning we knew that Chocolate City wasn’t anything more than a way to capitalize on the Magic Mike franchise. Having been released two months before Magic Mike XXL, Chocolate City is tagged lined as “Are You Ready For the Real Magic?”  In the opening scene we are asked have we seen Magic Mike? Chris mentions the popular movie later in the film as well, with Michael brushing it off as “just a movie” further confirming that this is more of a spoof film than anything.

While the premise for the films differ; Magic Mike follows Adam, a 19-year old looking for a job after dropping out of college and thus living with his sister in Florida. Adam  is taken under the wing by Mike played by Tatum who eventually falls for Adam’s sister. Unlike Michael’s character in Chocolate City, Adam finds himself falling into a spiral of drugs and sexual affairs. While Chocolate City is about the world of exotic male dancing it’s much more “wholesome.” Michael and his brother go to church every Sunday with their mother. Michael’s mom makes sure he understands that school is more important and she hounds Chris repeatedly about finding a job.

Without realizing that Magic Mike is very loosely based on Tatum’s time as a male dancer in florida we notice that the plot is what puts Magic Mike on a different tier than Chocolate City. It seems as if the film’s director Jean-Claude La Marre, put more emphasis on the dancing but failed to realize that what made Magic Mike such a hit was it’s backstory.

Many scenes in Chocolate City were clearly there as filler, adding nothing in the way of substance only building a wall between a porno and a theatrical film.  Now don’t get me wrong, naked men seductively gyrating around a stage is a part of quite a few women’s dreams but as a film we’ve learned that there still needs to be more, hence the reviews for Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls and Elizabeth Berkley’s subsequent career.

Chocolate City couldn’t have been a better movie. It wasn’t made to be a good movie. I’m okay with that and I think other watchers will be okay with that as well because regardless of Magic Mike’s duly noted story arch, its original promise was to give us scantily clad men dancing on a stage. That’s all we needed to hit the box offices. With Chocolate City you get that and some. Any disappointment at Chocolate City’s overall value is soon forgotten when Ginuwine the sex symbol himself comes out from behind that sparkly curtain and dances to his sultrily famous hit, ‘Pony.” Whew.

Magic Mike XXL is in theaters now.

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