5th of July (2020)

Nothing beats going down a Tubi rabbit hole and discovering a new movie—especially when it’s a slapstick comedy of the roadtrip kind directed by Camilo Vila of the 1988 horror flick The Unholy (starring Ben Cross and Hal Holbrook) and stars an ’80s child sitcom star.

And you know what? It ended up being just as good as any Tim Allen or Melissa McCarthy slapstick road movie with quirky characters (Wild Hogs and Tammy).

Jaleel rocks this movie.

Now I know you’re not expecting much from a slapstick road movie starring Jaleel White. And that’s a shame. I’ve seen the adult White in dramatic roles in reruns of TV’s Castle, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Hawaii Five-O and he’s more than proven he’s brilliantly beat the child actor curse. And say what you will about ’80s TV comedies of the ABC kind, but what Jaleel White did with his star-making role in Family Matters was nothing short of astounding.

White is Orlando Leal, a French literature professor excited to spend the 4th of July weekend with his new girlfriend flying in from Washington, D.C. But before he can make that airport pickup, he has to fulfill his father’s dying wish: spread his ashes across Mosquito Lakes in California’s Sequoia National Park where they spent their previous father-son holidays. And the self-centered Orlando, who always hated the trips, curses his father while dumping the ashes. So his father decides to teach his son a lesson—and curses him from the beyond.

First, Orlando’s robbed of his backpack containing his wallet and keys by a pair of ex-cellmate thieves, Dakota and Cowboy. While trying to get back to San Jose, he’s drugged by a busload of neo-hippies. Then he’s tazed and pepper sprayed by a racist country girl. That leads to his hitching a ride with Mexican mirgrant workers and his having to steal the farm boss’s motorcycle. Then, when Orlando finally makes it home, he discovers his home is cleaned out. And there’s the bumpkin park rangers, the Barney Fife-cops, and clueless credit card company representatives adding merriment to his travels.

Will Orlando reverse his father’s curse in time to pick up the love of his life at the airport, or will he lose her forever?

Lead actors are only as good as their co-stars and Gary Anthony Williams (best remembered by Malcolm in the Middle fans for his role as Abraham “Abe” Kenarban; he got his start with a support role in Radioland Murders, but Star Wars fans know his work in that franchise’s animated universe) and the late Brent Briscoe (“JJ” from NBC-TV’s Parks and Recreation) excel in their roles as the theives Cowboy and Dakota. And no matter how small the role, it’s hard to pass up a movie starring the welcomed face of ‘80s TV actor Sy Richardson from Rudy Ray Moore’s Petey Wheatstraw (along with Bad Dreams, Repo Man, Shattered Illusions, and Sid and Nancy; the list goes on and on) as Orlando’s pop.

This film is worthy of a watch. You’ll enjoy it.

After a succesfull run on the U.S comedy film festival circuit—including a win at the 2019 International Black Film Festival—5th of July makes its debut as a free with-limited-ads stream on TubiTv. You can learn more about film at Four Fish Films.

Disclaimer: We didn’t receive a screener copy of 5th of July from the film’s PA firm or distributor. We discovered this movie all on our own and genuinely enjoyed the film.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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