The Seat Filler
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The Seat Filler

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There is something about a romantic comedy. Overtly women love them for the love story, the handsome young man and beautiful young woman overcoming the most bizarre of circumstances to find each other and true love. Secretly, many men enjoy the same genre because the situations the people get into are comical, often to the point of slap stick. Not every movie has to be heavy and dramatic, full of important themes that you consider long after the film ends. Sometimes what you want is some good old fashion light entertainment, a few laughs to forget the problems of the day for about ninety minutes or so. The latest entry in this category of film is ‘The Seat Filler’, a romantic comedy directed by Nick Castle and the Momentum Experience. When there is a big, high profile event in the entertainment field, such as an award show, it looks bad when the television audience tunes in and sees empty seats. They might get the impression that this event is not so important that they have to turn people away; that it is so crucial to be there that it is a packed house. To make sure an empty seat is never visible the industry has created a unique job, the seat filler. These men and women slide into any empty seat to make sure the camera always sees people. If a star has to get up for a bathroom break the seat filler is there is keep that chair warm. If you do a web search you will learn that there are numerous companies whose sole function is to provide the lowly seat filler to events both big and small. The film looks at Derrick (Duane Martin) a young man who is just trying to get his life on track. He is a recent graduate of law school, MBA and is studying to pas the bar examinations. His father has become ill and cannot work so Derrick feels he has to help more in supporting his mother (Denise Dowse) and younger sister Liyah (Kyla Pratt). Much to Derrick’s embarrassment he has to take some money that his mom slips him during once of his frequent visits back home. Derrick shares an apartment with his best friend E.J. (DeRay Davis). E.J. is the kind of guy that is all style, or at least what he considers style, over substance. He is always looking for an easy way out. He tells Derrick about an easy way to earn money, become a seat filler. All you have to do is just sit there next to some stars and you get paid. Derrick agrees and meets E.J. at one such event. Once there they are told the rules of the trade, a series of picayune regulations such as ‘when clapping only hit your hands five times, if other laugh you may laugh three times’. The most important rule of all is never, absolutely never, speak to the celebrities. During his first event Derrick has to sit next to Jhnelle (Kelly Rowland), a beautiful, talent and popular singer. She may seem to have it all but she is ultimately lonely. Her boyfriend Trent (Shemar Moore) is more concerned with playing ball with the guys and getting his chest wax to pay attention to her. Trent is also cheating on Jhnelle. He only one that Jhnelle can trust is her personal assistant, Sandy (Melanie Brown). During the red carpet affair, the third annual Video Beat Awards. Jhnelle breaks the heel of her shoe; he fixes it and against regulations speaks with her. This sets in motion events that will draw the two together. Derrick must pretend to be someone he is not to get close to the girl he is falling in love with.

While there are many aspects of the plot that we have seen a hundred times the presentation was fresh and entertaining. Like the animated classic ‘Lady and the Tramp’ this film is based on the age old quagmire, loving someone of higher status. The characters of Derrick and Jhnelle are just likeable and the audience is drawn to watching them. Duane Martin has a very natural and easy going manner to him. Martin gives a presentation of Derrick that works perfectly, handsome, intelligent and sensitive, just what the ladies want from a Prince Charming. Most importantly, he plays off the other actors in such a way as to never crowd the others; he shines without having to push everyone else out of the scene. When he is acting opposite DeRay Davis as his best friend you can accept that these where life long friends, their performance gives more exposition than any dialogue could. Kelly Rowland is best known as one member of Destiny’s Child. She does have some comedic acting experience. I remember her doing very well in the television series The Hughleys. Rowland has what it takes to be a romantic comedy success, she is pretty, talented and be the girl next door or the sought after star. She also connects well with her fellow actors here providing a performance that the audience to become emotional invested with her character. Another former girl band star is also here, Melanie Brown, also know as Mel B. or Scary Spice from the late, lamented Spice Girls. Ms Brown does well here as the raunchy best friend and confidant to the lead. Unlike many singers that want to be movie stars both Rowland and Brown have the smarts to take on a light comedy like this instead of plunging into overly demanding characters.

This film is brought to DVD by Magnolia Home Entertainment and The Momentum Experience. Momentum is a group of entertainers such as Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Blair Underwood and others to offer quality roles for African American. I hope to see more from this group. The film is not based on ethic only humor, its appeal is human and universal. The mastering for DVD is impeccable. Contrary to some published specifications the video was presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen. The color balance is perfect with a natural tone and temperature. The Dolby 5.1 audio is mixed extremely loud. I had to push the volume way down in order to listen comfortably. The bass is also more dominate than most films of this type. The sub woofer pounds especially during the musical numbers. This is film that is fun and entertaining that will appeal to both men and women. Whether you are married or just going together this will make a great date night at home flick.

Posted 2/21/06

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