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By Stephanie Frederic, Sentinel Entertainment Editor
Samuel L. Jackson hates white people, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant and big green leafy foliage that hangs over his property line in the racially charged drama “Lakeview Terrace.”
Jackson is LAPD officer Abel Turner and the neighbor from hell as he torments a young interracial couple played by Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson who have just moved next door in the posh Southern California neighborhood. It isn't totally clear why Jackson's character is so full of rage toward the couple in this hybrid of “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” and “Cape Fear” but it's a lot of fun watching Jackson who is at his best even if much of the racial commentary he spews out stings.
“I love this character,” Jackson tells the L.A. Sentinel. “It was fun being able to say things that people wish they could say and do things people wished they could do - of course it was just a role, but I guarantee you there's a couple people sitting there watching the movie that go Okay. I get that. I'm with you. I'm with him.”
No one plays Samuel L. Jackson like Samuel L. Jackson and in “Lakeview,” he's in rare form. The man deserves an Academy Award but of course there isn't an official category for Best Samuel L. Jackson impersonation.
“I think Abel has a definite point of view that he's not afraid to express,” says Jackson. “Abel says what's on his mind. He has a real opinion about how he wants the world to be and what he thinks should be going on around him in his neighborhood. He has a definite idea about how he wants to raise his kids, what he wants them to be influenced by, and he's not afraid to express that opinion and he is not afraid to do things to make the world his way.”
Jackson has been in racially divisive films before. Remember him as the “Soul Train” dancin' crack head in “Jungle Fever?” And when he played the straight-laced Barack Obama like black man opposite Nicholas Cage in the wickedly funny and underrated comedy satire “Amos & Andrew?”
In “Lakeview Terrace” Jackson is the center point. But none of his antics work if you don't buy the chemistry between the lovey dovey couple - his neighbors. Kerry Washington's and Patrick Wilson (Lisa and Chris Mattson) genuine interaction helps the audience to side with the couple despite the film's constant insistence that their relationship is taboo.
“There are also a number of issues in the film, including racism,” says Kerry Washington. “It's clear in the film this couple saved up to buy this house; and the problem they encounter starts to affect their marriage. It's also about class and cultural values.”
And, Washington adds, “The story is about what happens when you move next door to a police officer and you experience difficulties and where do you go when the person who is supposed to be helping you is the person who is inflicting pain on you?”
It's too bad it takes the film too long explaining Jackson's character's true motivation. Before we learn what truly sets him off the film spirals out of control as it transforms into a silly adult cartoon with one of the weakest endings in recent memory. Enjoy the first half which features sharp writing full of painful racist insults and ugly stereotypical viewpoints.
Next up for Samuel L. Jackson, the comedy “Soul Men” where Jackson and the late comedian Bernie Mac play old school soul singers trying to make a comeback.
“It's funny,” says Jackson. “You'll actually hear me and Mac singing in Soul Men.”