Univers'l

This documentary-style fiction is set in an LA strip mall on the day in 1992 when the Rodney King verdicts were announced. Among the few owners or employees of the mostly family-run businesses who aren't total bigots are Marcus (Tony Todd) and Ai Lein (Jackie Huynh), who are attracted to each other—something the story telegraphs early on will end in tragedy. Making fun of all the characters by portraying them as stereotypes that pander to audience expectations even as she mocks their ethnocentricity, writer-director Anna Nicholas achieves little. There's some humor when one character tells a joke to another, because for once we're encouraged to laugh with instead of at someone. But for the most part the repetitive narrative succeeds only in creating a low-grade suspense that's purposeless, patronizing, and even obnoxious. What the movie has to say about relations between members of different cultural groups is pretty obvious and comes across in the first few minutes. The actors might make a good ensemble for a sitcom though.

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