Low marks for Jcan film - Critics call King of the Dancehall a flop

September 22, 2016
Kimberly Patterson
Nick Cannon

- Critics call 'King of the Dancehall' a flop

After much buzz, Nick Cannon's film, 'King of the Dancehall' premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to lukewarm reviews.

With commendations for his choice of film location (Jamaica) and his visual immersion into the dancehall space, initial reviews purport that other aspects of the film, like its general motivation and primary intention are confused.

It is a supposition that the demand of playing the roles of director, writer and lead actor of the film strained its focus and resulted in 'a hysterical, feverish, incredibly watchable [mess]''.

King of the Dancehall sees Nick Cannon's character, Tarzan Brixton, moving to Kingston from Brooklyn with US$5,000 to make enough money, through a weed scheme to care for his sick mother, played by Whoopi Goldberg.

In a review on Variety, writer Andrew Barker, in like mind, outlines two smart decisions made by the film's director, those being the choice to film in Jamaica, "deep in the country's dancehall scene", and the other being the choice of leading lady. Maya, played by Kimberly Patterson, was invited to audition for the film while spotted on set, on the job as a make-up artist. The review reads, "It's not hard to guess what initially caught Cannon's eye the actress is traffic-haltingly beautiful but luckily for us, she also turns out to be a natural, possessing a cool ease on camera and an immediate magnetism that will hopefully see her land future roles with dialogue that's actually worth speaking".

"A local stunner named Maya applied to the make-up department but was recruited instead to be Cannon's leading lady. She's the daughter of a stern holy man (Louis Gossett Jr), but her wild sensuality on the dance floor suggests anything but prayer," wrote David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter.

Rooney continues with a sentiment similar to other reviews, positing that Cannon "favours the busy cutting and frenetic pace of music videos, while handling dialogue scenes with more obligation than interest, diluting the potential seriousness to be evoked from dramatic scenes".

Though under heavy scrutiny for its alleged thinly veiled attempt at substance, Cannon has been receiving some nods as it relates to the visual and aural experience the film creates when it takes the audience into the dancehall. Kate Erblad of IndieWire wrote that King of the Dancehall "excels when focused on the dancehall and its social strata'', but weakens as "the budding filmmaker insists on packing his feature ever tighter with duelling interests and elements".

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