Movie Review: Black or White

Black or White is basically Kevin Costner vs. Octavia Spencer - and ever since The Help, I'd go see a movie where Spencer reads the phone book, to be honest (I love her acting). This film touches upon many issues that are very relevant today, and it was interesting to see how it played out.

Elliot Anderson (Costner) has just lost his wife, and now is the only person raising his 7-year-old granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell). Her father, Reggie (Andre Holland), is a drug addict who hasn't been in the picture for a while now, and Elliot's 17-year-old daughter died in childbirth. Eloise DOES have a grandmother, however (Spencer), and many cousins, all of whom live in a part of L.A. very different from Elliot's. "Grandma We-We," as her other grandmother, Rowena, calls herself, would like to raise Eloise as her own - she's already doing that for a few of her nieces and nephews; but Elliot won't have it. Soon, they both find themselves embroiled in a family court case, led by Rowena's lawyer brother, Jeremiah (Anthony Mackie), and although Rowena and Elliot both want what's best for Eloise, they both have very strong opinions, as well.

All the scenes in this film with Costner and Spencer bickering were great - they have good chemistry together - and all of the characters in this movie were very believable, as well. Eloise enjoys visiting with her cousins and other family on Rowena's side, but she barely knows her father (Rowena's son), and when he unexpectedly shows up wanting to be involved in the court case, she doesn't know who to trust. Costner is great as the "cranky old man" in this movie, and a math tutor he hires for Eloise, Duvan (Mpho Koaho), actually ends up stealing the show, with his quirky manners and attributes. Newcomer Jillian Estell, as Eloise, also ends up stealing the show, as she's adorable and also very smart.

Yes, see this movie. It has bursts of unexpected humor throughout, while at the same time dealing with some serious issues, and the cast all did very well. Costner has been popping up in a number of movies last year and this - Draft Day, 3 Days to Kill,and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - but this is my favorite role of his between all of those movies. The film should do well at the box office, too, solely based on its A-list cast (Costner, Spencer, Mackie, and more), and it's one I definitely recommend seeing; it's rated PG-13 but is a great family movie too, in my opinion, and could start some interesting conversations about race in today's modern world.

Black or White is in theaters today, January 30th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 121 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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