Never 2 Big (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This movie, also known as "Butter", is a soap opera cum murder mystery starring, appropriately enough, probably the most popular black soap opera star of all time, Shemar Moore.

It strikes a real blow for racial equality by proving that some contemporary black guys can write crap just as bad as any old white guys from the 1970's, because the script and dialogue are all too redolent of that noted Pia Zadora stinker, The Lonely Lady.  

The film starts out as some kind of insider look at a glitzy power struggle within the music business, in which a record company entrepreneur is about to sell his company to a big, anonymous consortium. Unfortunately, his biggest asset, one of the world's most popular divas, is tired of his mentorship, and is going to leave the label rather than renew her contract.

I suppose that alone would have been enough for a soap opera, but at that point a murder mystery was overlaid. The diva was killed, and her brother was convinced that the record company magnate was responsible. The brother's conviction seems to be well placed, since he has been stalked by a hit man ever since he informed Mister Big that he will tell the cops everything he knows about the murder. 


Donny Don Wahlberg travels around with an assortment of bimbos, one or two of whom were occasionally seen topless in the background. Most of the time they were out of focus while the camera followed someone else, but there are a couple of brief peeks in focus

Wellsir, everything is not exactly as it seems. It is actually more complicated than it first appears to be, and it is wise to remember that in almost all-black productions, the one white guy in the cast is very often the source of all evil in the world except the Oprah Book Club. Marky Mark's brother, Donny Don Wahlberg, is appropriately slimy in the satanic white guy role. (In his own satanic Wahlbergian universe, Lucifer, the prince of darkness, is called Luky Luke.)


DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen

  • no major features

The plot isn't anything to write home about, and there isn't really much suspense or tension or subtlety in the film, but there is a good urban R&B score, and some of my favorite great black character actors are on hand to provide atmosphere:
  • Ernie Hudson, the former Ghostbuster, plays Mr Big. The character's actual name is 8 Ball, "not because I'm black and bald, but because I'm always the last one on the table". Well, I guess if he were white, he'd be Cue Ball, wouldn't he? He speaks throughout the movie in slow, rambling basso parables and with a vocabulary that is pseudo-profound, pseudo-poetic, like Barry White reciting the greatest speeches of Don King.
  • Tony Todd, the former Candyman, plays a hit man who dresses and acts like a black version of the WWF Undertaker, except from the early days when Undie was more mysterious. 
  • Equally as creepy and menacing as Candyman is Terrence Howard, as the good cop who has to be tough and slick enough to deal with some tough and slick baddies.

Those guys and Wahlberg provide some really creepy atmosphere which almost but not quite makes up for the trite Harold Robbins plot and the complete dorkiness of the romantic leads, Shemar Moore and Nia Long, who are both beautiful, but who both needed personality transplants in this film. If Shemar's character were a member of the Wahlberg clan, he'd be Dorky Dork.

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 63/100

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it a dismal 3.9, Apollo users disagree, scoring it a respectable 65/100.  I believe the truth lies in between.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Not good, but good minor characters make up somewhat for the dweeby leads and predictable plot.

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