Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Diversification of Noah Miller

Title - The Diversification of Noah Miller

Written By - Adam Cole-Kelly & Sam Pitman

The Diversification of Noah Miller appeared on this year's Black List receiving 10 votes. It's the second post-Obama America script that I've read in as many days, the first being Liars (A-E).
This one tells the story of NOAH MILLER, a 35 year old white guy who presents a food review programme. It's the day of the inauguration, and NOAH holds an inauguration party at his house with wife LIZ and friend PETE among other unnamed friends. During the party, NOAH is approached by PETE, both of whom are bursting with joy at the new Obama-ness. Noah says,
"I just wanna hug a black person, y'know?" He then surveys his living room only to realise that there's not a single black person there, and not only that, but for all of his liberal ideals, he doesn't really have any black friends. Then, NOAH & LIZ are called into their child MICAH's school, to discover that MICAH tried to erase the skin colour off a black classmate's (ANTOINE) face. MICAH's teacher encourages NOAH and LIZ to diversify their friends circle so as to surround MICAH with African-Americans. When asked if they want to meet ANTOINE's parents to resolve the issue, NOAH & LIZ decline and head off on their merry way, with NOAH more certain than ever that he needs a black friend.
As luck would have it, NOAH winds up sharing a cab with a black man RASHON. They get talking and hit it off somewhat, as RASHON recognises NOAH from his food review show. When RASHON exits the cab, NOAH realises that he has left his umbrella in the cab. Having found out where RASHON works through an aside by RASHON, he decides to give the umbrella back. On returning the umbrella, RASHON invites NOAH to play some basketball. And a friendship is born!

At the basketball court, RASHON introduces NOAH to his girlfriend KIM and his son ANTOINE, y'know the kid whose skin colour NOAH's son tried to erase earlier. Though he doesn't mention it at first, NOAH finally admits to RASHON that he's the parent of ANTOINE's hate crime perpetrator, and things turn icey and awkward between the new inter-racial buds. However, their significant others LIZ and KIM initiate a reconciliation between the two and soon they're best buds, with the four hanging out all the time - in black joints, in soul food restaurants.
However as time goes on, NOAH's friend PETE begins to grow weary of his friend's increasing lack of time for him, and one day sorta lets slip to RASHON that NOAH was just using him to have a black friend. Then at a party that NOAH attends after having a fight with wife LIZ because she says that he's abandoning his family responsibilities, NOAH gets wasted and basically says as much. RASHON ain't havin' none of that, and they's over!

Then NOAH makes up with LIZ after he sings a song to her, and she informs him that KIM and RASHON have broken up. There was always a little tension between KIM and RASHON as KIM wanted to get married but RASHON didn't, and that evidently lead to their demise as a couple.
However, NOAH decides that he must take matters into his own hands, and rushes down to RASHON's place of work where he tells RASHON that he's sorry and that KIM is the one, and he needs to get her back ASAP. Brother can't stay mad at cracker, and they's all good again!

So NOAH organises a viewing party of his new NBC show Noah Eats New York (yeah, he got an NBC show) and invites KIM. In the episode he walks up to RASHON and asks him why he's eating alone. RASHON says that he's waiting for someone and will wait forever if that's how long it takes because he loves her. Then in real life, RASHON proposes to KIM and everybody lives happily ever after.

CONSENSUS - Okay, so I would say that about half of The Diversification of Noah Miller is funny and well-executed. The premise is very reminiscent of this year's I Love You, Man in which the protagonist seeks out a male best friend to serve as his best man at his wedding, only this one deals with the sensitive subject of race, and I've got to admit, it's a great idea (it's also really like that Seinfeld episode). But as it wears on, it kinda slowly comes apart and the ending is overly-schmaltzy for my liking.

The writers do a good job of placing NOAH in uncomfortable situations with lots of black guys where NOAH's awkwardness really shines, and in doing so, makes a good comment on where race relations really are in America right now. We may have a black President, but that doesn't mean that everything's automatically fine & dandy regarding race relations. Even when RASHON and NOAH are friends, their friendship isn't without their awkward moments. In one instance, NOAH while rapping at a nightclub, lets the n-word slip to the dismay of every African-American there.

However, the whole sequence involving Noah and Rashon's reconciliation and Kim and Rashon's reconciliation is where it all kinda comes apart at the seams. It's just way too cheesy and nonsensical and well - Hollywood. One thing that worries me about the project is that Tyler Perry is in line to produce (and make a cameo appearance at the end). I worry that any edge that the movie has will be lost if Perry produces and it will turn into another "white boy meet black boy" movie.

Overall, enjoyable read and I can see it working well if it retains its edge and good actors are cast. Personally, I'm thinking Romany Malco for the role of Rashon, and someone like Chuck's Zachary Levi for the role of Noah. However, it can very easily turn into a schmaltzy buddy comedy if it's not careful.

Grade - B

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