Nick Cannon’s stars as soon to be combat soldier Mike is this hybrid soldier/coming of age story. It seems clear that Cannon is making a play to be taken serious in this role, hoping to move on from lighter fare like Drumline. It’s a risky move; will Cannon prevail and show off his overlooked acting chops, or will he prove to be yet another shallow pretty face with nothing more than a smart mouth and flash in the pan success? Hit the jump to find out.
American Son manages to distinguish itself from the jump with an excellent premise that is “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it” obvious, but hasn’t been given much (if any) attention. What’s life like for a soldier whose about to leave for Iraq? American Son follows the last 96 hours that Mike has free to himself, as he tries to make some sense of what his life has been so far, before it drastically changes with the beginning of his time in combat.
Unfortunately, the film derails pretty quickly as it becomes apparent that much of the action will focus not on Mike’s fascinating family (including Tom Sizemore as his step dad, and Chi McBride as real dad), but instead on the last minute romance Mike BEGINS with Christina (Melanie Diaz), a girl he meets on his bus ride home.
From there this film is hit and miss. The drama surrounding his family and friends feels real and pertinent, but every time it picks up steam we are sidetracked to the love story. Melanie Diaz is fine but forgettable as Christina, and Cannon does his best to bring some Romeo A game, but the fault is in the writing. The script teeters back and forth between trying to make some sort of statement about Mike’s emotional state, and simply portraying a doomed but beautiful romance. Sadly, the teetering dooms both possibilities, and much of the film.
Despite some wrong turns and unfortunate choices, the film still manages to keep you interested and Cannon does turn in a heartfelt and honest performance. I won’t call it brilliant, but I’ll be willing to watch another dramatic film from him, despite how much I hate watching him on America’s Got Talent.
The DVD extras include a director commentary and a making of featurette, neither of which are awesome, but shed light on the filmmaker’s process, and are enjoyable, providing you enjoyed the film.